The battle for the Premier Division title may be hot, but competition for points is just as keen at the bottom.
East End United A suffered a setback when Adrian Kealy gave Evergreen B all three points in Bennettsbridge. Kealy’s goal, scored from the penalty spot, was enough to give the visitors the safety of mid-table security but also piled more pressure on the hosts.
Having scored just seven points from nine games, East End’s seventh loss of the campaign has left them in danger of being reeled in by teams below them.
A battle of the bottom two ended in disaster for Fort Rangers, who went down 0-2 at home to the Lions. The Wallslough side, who suffered their fifth loss of the campaign, are three points adrift in the league but do have four games in hand on the Lions, who are a point behind East End.
Division One leaders Spa United suffered a pre-Christmas shock as Tullaroan took home all three points from Johnstown.
Hoping for a win to cement their place at the top of the table, Spa came unstuck as goals from Ger Brennan and Brendan Burke saw the visitors nab the spoils.
Rise in fortunes
By no means a fluke, the result shows a continued rise in fortunes for Tullaroan, last season’s Division Two champions. Having lost their first four games of the season they’ve been unbeaten since, taking 12 points from six games to move into fifth place.
Callan United missed the chance to close the gap on leaders Spa after they were held to a 2-2 draw by Stoneyford United.
Ryan Bergin was on the mark for Callan, but James Moran and Conor Meaney scored for Stoneyford, who still find themselves locked in a battle with Freebooters B and Deen Celtic at the wrong end of the table.
The other teams fighting to beat the drop, Freebooters B and Deen Celtic A, had to be content with sharing the spoils at the Fair Green.
The Blues were on fire from the off, with Chris Valentine and Stephen Chappell hitting the net to put the hosts two up inside 20 minutes. Things looked bleak for Deen Celtic, but they gained hope when James Sherwood pulled a goal back/ Celtic then completed the comeback when Alan Phelan netted the leveller before half-time.
Two goals in either half saw Freshford Town move back to the top of Division Two and maintain their 100% record in Division Two.
Fresh from knocking Thomastown United out of the FAI Junior Cup, Town continued their winning ways with a 4-2 win over Bridge United B in Goresbridge, Stephen Farrell and Willie Cuddihy giving the visitors an early advantage. Although Bridge pulled a goal back second half strikes from Graham O’Flaherty and Paul Guinan made sure of Freshford’s win.
Brookville’s grip on pole position in Division Two slipped after River Rangers took all three points in their clash. Goals from Tommy Minogue, Darragh Murphy and Bob Murphy ensured Rangers took all three points in a 3-2 win.
The result for River Rangers has made for a tight division. With the exception of bottom-placed Highview Athletic, just four points separate the remaining seven sides.
Brookville’s slip allowed Thomastown United B to close to within two points of the Ballyragget men thanks to a 4-3 win over Tipp’s St Anne’s. Sean Brennan did the damage for United, grabbing a hat-trick, with Thomas O’Hanrahan adding the fourth.
East End United B marched to the summit of Division Three thanks to a big win over Brookville B. Eoin Delaney, Niall Kiely, Shane Beale and Jason Cleere netted for the visitors.
United have now moved a point clear of the chasing pack, but the result leaves Brookville B still looking for their first win this season.
Lions B missed out on the chance to go top themselves after they went down 4-1 at home to Castlewarren Celtic. Martin Doyle, Jason Byrne, Declan Rafter and David Carroll netted for Celtic, who have propelled themselves back into the title race following two successive draws against East End B and St John’s.
Thomastown United C made sure they stayed in the race for the title thanks to a 4-1 win over St John’s. Johnny Maher (2), Russell O’Brien and Shane O’Neill were on target for United, who have picked up 18 points to date. They are one behind leaders East End B, but they have a game in hand on their local rivals.
At national level Kilkenny hopes of FAI Junior Cup glory now rest on the shoulders of Freshford Town after Evergreen were sent packing from the competition.
The Premier Division champions made the long trek to Galway for a Saturday night meeting with Mervue United. Following a scoreless first half, the stalemate continued into a second half where conditions steadily worsened.
Evergreen survived a scare when Barry Moran rattled Pierce Dargan’s crossbar in the 55th minute, but the Kilkenny side were undone when Simon Walsh grabbed a 71st minute winner to put United into round six.
Freshford, who have yet to play Douglas Hall in their final 64 clash, will have a tough task should they advance to round six - win and they’ll be away to Cup holders Sheriff.