Janesboro, standard setters in Limerick soccer
AS the junior football season approaches the midway point in Limerick, league leaders and clubs at the wrong end of their respective league tables begin to dream of success and or indeed formulate plans to change their destinies.
While no trophies are given out in November the division 1A and premier divisions in particular have league leaders and also clubs cut adrift, at both ends of their respective tables.
With Janesboro now at least six points clear of the chasing pack of Pike Rovers, Carew Park and Ballynanty, assuming of course that those behind the black and whites win their games in hand, and seven points ahead of second place Regional Utd, it could very well mean that the Aidan Ryan and Shane O Hanlon combination could lead the Pearse stadium outfit to back to back premier league titles for the first time in the club's history.
That is an amazing stat for a club of the Boro's size when one factors in the success in recent times, which boasts every trophy with the exception of the FAI junior cup.
At the wrong end of the premier division it looks bleak for Holycross who after ten league games are still without a point but nothing yet decided between Moyross and Charleville who certainly look like they are in a two horse race for that second relegation spot.
In Division 1A, it looks likely that Prospect will return to the top flight of local football for the first time in nearly twenty years. They have opened up a five point gap on nearest challengers Cappamore and after a fantastic recent victory over Geraldines, who many fancied for a quick return to premier football, they now lead the Garryowen side by six points, who in third position are a point behind Cappamore with a game more played.
With this in mind it is important to note how Charleville romped to the 1A title last year and now their current league position in premier highlights the challenge ahead for any promoted club.
It also interesting to look at the recent withdrawals from premier football by clubs promoted from 1A, teams including Summerville and Wembley and how this situation could possibly be addressed.
Whilst no one would disagree, that the team that finishes bottom of the premier league and also the team who wins 1A should be relegated and promoted, I do think that a different approach for the teams second from bottom and top of both leagues could benefit the clubs involved.
If a play off situation existed with home and away fixtures determining the clubs fate for the following season, would this be a better option?
I think it would certainly confirm to all who should remain in the higher division as a two legged affair decided by an aggregate score is, more often than not, conclusive.
I think it would certainly make for a more exciting end to the season for the clubs involved and could also be a league show piece annually that might raise the profile of the league locally.
At the top end of the premier league, as with any league there are the teams that every year are battling it out for the title, Janesboro, Pike Rovers and because of their recent league title success, Carew Park, are there every year for the majority of the season in contention for the title.
Then there is always one club that will come from the chasing pack for a year and put forward a realistic challenge. Last year that was Nenagh and this year, it is Regional and Ballynanty which tends to keep their hopes alive for the majority of the season, but lets look outside of the top four for a moment.
Could a different approach provide an incentive for clubs to finish fifth and sixth in the premier league?
A type of incentive that could make games at the back end of the season involving the clubs outside of the big four more meaningful and competitive?
It may also possibly assist clubs who exit the provincial and national cups early to prolong their season?
Would a bye through to the second round of the following years Tuohy cup for example be a good incentive for a fifth place finish in the league? Could possibly a new set of gear from a league or local sponsor inspire clubs and players to strive for a better finish in the league as opposed to teams struggling to field their best eleven as no trophies or incentives are on offer.
As always our junior league administrators run the leagues on behalf of the clubs so decisions such as the above are ones for clubs and the leagues to discuss but with the good of local football in mind dialogue and fresh ideas are never a bad thing.