This weekend we had a slightly curtailed set of fixtures, with St. Patricks weekend in full flow. The North West based NI Intermediate league had a week off, while the Mid Ulster league was down to just one fixture.
The games that did take place though saw the hopes of two of the front-runners for promotion to the PIL take a knock, as both Bangor and Banbridge Rangers suffered home defeats to sides in the chasing pack.
The one game in Mid Ulster took place on the 3G surface at Cheney Park, Banbridge. The hosts were taking on Hanover as they looked to gain three points on Dollingstown and Crewe at the top of the table. It wasn’t to be however as the visitors ran out 2-0 winners to deal a blow to Rangers, while giving their own hopes a shot in the arm.
Hanover currently sit in 7th place with 22 points from their 13 games played, six games less than leaders Dollingstown who are on 44 points. Hanover will have a hectic schedule over the coming weeks, but Stephen Hyndes side will relish the challenge ahead. The Brownstown Park side will require favours from elsewhere, but they have already wrapped up the Bob Radcliffe and Premier Cup crowns this season, and although they have not applied for the promotion playoff they will be looking to add a third title to an already impressive season.
Banbridge, meanwhile, still have their destiny in their own hands as they have three games in hand on the Dolly Birds, while they also have to travel to Planters Park before the seasons end.
On to the BPIL now, and preseason favourites Bangor still lead the way, but suffered their third league defeat of the season on Saturday, as they travelled north to face Sofia Farm who duly completed a league double over the Seasiders.
Hugh Sinclairs men have found it tough going against the Farmers, having also lost out to them in the McReynolds Cup, and it would prove the same story this weekend. Sofia Farm were always in control at Mill Meadow, leading 2-0 and 3-1 before Bangor netted a second, but the equaliser never came.
St.James Swifts crept closer still to the leaders, with their 2-1 win at Chimney Corner inching them within four points of Bangor but having played three games less. The Swifts are in the midst of a great run of form, having lost just one of their 7 league games this year.
That defeat was at the hands of Glebe Rangers, and both Bangor and the Swifts will be looking over their shoulders as the Ballymoney men continue their charge towards the top of the table. Colin Wilmonts men have won all four of their league games since the turn of the year, scoring 17 goals along the way. They now sit on 26 points, 11 behind Bangor but have played 7 games less.
Dunloy kept themselves well in the mix as well, racking up an impressive 4-0 win away to Desertmartin. Dunloy find themselves in third spot, with 28 points from their 15 games, 9 behind the leaders with three games in hand.
On to the NAFL now, where Rathfriland kept up their great run of form as they romped to an 8-2 win at home to Malachians. With leaders East Belfast and second placed 1st Bangor not in action, Albert Foundry took the chance to jump above 1st Bangor as they secured an important 3-2 win at home to Crumlin United. Champions Crumlin Star could only draw 0-0 at home to Derriaghy, but that keeps them level with Rathfriland on 26 points and 11 games each. East Belfast sit 15 points above the pair but have played 9 games more. Foundry, meanwhile, are 13 behind the East with four games in hand.
At the bottom of the table Downpatrick travelled home from Lisburn having dealt a heavy blow to Rangers hopes of remaining in the top flight with a 5-0 victory to open up a four point gap on the Stanley Park side, who have played three games more than Downpatrick.
Ballymena Provincial Intermediate League
Chimney Corner 1 – 2 St James Swifts
Sofia Farm 3 – 2 Bangor
Desertmartin 0 – 4 Dunloy
Glebe Rangers 4 – 1 Ballynure OB
|2||St James Swifts||15||10||3||2||36||13||23||33|
Northern Amateur Football League
Drumaness Mills P-P Ards Rangers
Rathfriland Rangers 8-2 Malachians
Crumlin Star 0-0 Derriaghy C C
Lisburn Rangers 0-5 Downpatrick F.C.
Albert Foundry F.C. 3-2 Crumlin United
1st Bangor Old Boys P-P Shankill United
|2||Albert Foundry F.C.||16||8||4||4||29||24||5||28|
|3||1st Bangor Old Boys||17||8||3||6||31||30||1||27|
|7||Derriaghy C C||16||5||4||7||27||31||-4||19|
Mid Ulster League Intermediate A
Banbridge Rangers 0-2 Hanover
NI Intermediate League
|1||Magherafelt Sky Blues||13||10||2||1||27||18||9||32|
|9||Oxford Utd Stars||9||1||0||8||12||33||-21||3|