THE COMPLEXION at the bottom of the Premier Division table changed again on Sunday, but there was also a big shake-up at the top.
Fort Rangers threw themselves a lifeline in the battle against relegation - and a spanner into the works of the Freebooters A title hopes.
Conor Bergin was the toast of Wallslough as he fired home a 90th minute winner to give Rangers all three points at the Fair Green. Tony Moran’s excellent 25th minute chip had given Jim Cashin’s side a first half lead, but it looked like their victory hopes had been undone when young Blues sub Diarmuid Ryan bagged the equaliser with ten minutes to play.
Enter Bergin. The game was in the dying seconds of normal time when Tony Moran led a breakaway, crossing the ball for Emmet Nugent. The young striker was poised to shoot until a last ditch Michael Falsey tackle nicked the ball away but Bergin followed up to slam home the winner and leave Freebooters three points behind Evergreen A, having played one game more.
“We’ve had lots of glorious defeats here,” said a beaming Cashin, “but this is the first time that Fort have beaten Freebooters A on the Fair Green - and what a day to do it!”
“It’s a massive result,” he added. “We’re only a small club but the lads have great spirit - no-one can take that from us. Maybe we need to believe in ourselves a bit more, but this great result might be the start of that.”
Despite the obvious joy at getting such a result, the Fort boss had an air of caution for his side.
“I’m delighted with the win, but we’re not safe yet,” he said. “We still need to get a result against Evergreen B, but this will give us great confidence.”
The next round of Premier Division games sees Evergreen B host East End on Sunday, while Bridge United travel to the Fair Green to take on Freebooters B. Both games have an 11am kick-off.
Meanwhile the first round draw for the McCalmont Cup is now complete following the three preliminary games.
East End United were the biggest winners as they saw off Spa United 5-0 in Bennettsbridge. Brian Lannon (2), Paul O’Neill, Nicky Cleere and Michael O’Neill were on the scoresheet on Sunday afternoon as they booked a home draw against League newcomers St John’s.
Freebooters B made sure at least one of their club’s teams got a good result at the Fair Green as they saw off Bridge United’s B side 2-0. The club’s A teams will face off in round one, this time in Goresbridge, while Derrick Kenny’s side will tackle Newpark United A at home. Newpark will be hoping for a better result than their last outing against the Blues, having lost the Maher Shield semi-final a fortnight ago.
The third and final preliminary round game also featured a Premier Division team. Deen Celtic A completed the clean sweep of top flight winners when they made the early trek to Urlingford a worthwhile one, coming home with a 2-0 win. They have been drawn away to Thomastown United A in round one.
KCLR McCalmont Cup, first round - Callan United v Evergreen A, River Rangers v Freshford Town, Evergreen B v Highview Athletic, Freebooters B v Newpark United A, Tullaroan v Thomastown United B, AC Kilkenny B v St Anne’s, Fort Rangers v Brookville, Thomastown United A v Deen Celtic A, Deen Celtic B v Lions A, Evergreen C v Clover United B, AC Kilkenny A v Clifden United, Clover United A v Newpark United B, Bridge United A v Freebooters A, East End United v St John’s, Stoneyford United v Lions B, Gowran v Orchard Rovers.