O’Hanlon league preview.

Yeah!!….it’s the league season again, and a new division for our newly promoted 2nd team. What will it bring for Mark & his charges….time will tell, but here’s what we know……a group of enthusiastic juniors; a chance for some of the senior club players to break into the team permanently and a Dinosaur looking for Munchies!! This was the closest fought of all the leagues last year where every point does matter, and it will be no surprise if it remains the closest league of all. Let’s look at the teams.

Based on last season’s evidence, Dublin seem the strongest of the relegated Ennis teams to return upstairs, provided they play their strongest team consistently. It is amazing that this venerable club shot themselves in the foot by falling through the relegation trapdoor. Promotion seems likely to be contested with Elm Mount who are both strong and experienced on every board; All it took was a couple of poor results to leave Elm Mount looking at a distance to the 3 teams above them. Dublin University have been on an upward spiral for years, led by Chris Young and Robert Murtagh, but their lower boards hold the key to their attempt for a 4th successive promotion.

Likewise with the perennial bridesmaids Gorey, missing out again by a half point on the final day last season. They would have been the clearest of favourites this year, but with the talented David Remenyik moving to Elm Mount, it asks the same questions of strength in depth in the lower order as of Dublin University.  Their cause is not helped by the lengthy distances of travel. Two good outside bets have to be Malahide and Drogheda who will both benefit from their first teams dropping out of the Heidenfeld, leaving them with 2 extra strong players for selection. These 6 teams appear to be best placed to occupy the higher places. Nailing my colours to the mast….my heart would love Gorey to succeed, but Elm Mount and The University are my suggestions for promotion.

Inchicore are solid, experienced and competitive, and won’t be anywhere near the bottom. If they play anywhere like their Bea team did last year, then they’ll be in the upper mix for places. St Benildus easily defied being the lowest rated team and odds on certainties for the drop, almost de-railing Enniscorthy in the process to finish in the top half of the table. With Kevin Burke and Desmond Beatty behind the scenes…these youngsters will cause chess mayhem and destruction wherever they go. They won’t be looking downstairs either…their prodigous talent will come out!

Which leaves Bray who were given a reprieve due to Ballinasloe not fielding a team. Bray are not short of players, nor of good players so one has to ask…. Why did they have such a miserable season? If they have learned the lessons of their poor results, then they are strong enough not to find themselves in the same position this time around. Naomh Barrog were stranded adrift early doors in the Ennis, and they were doomed long before Christmas. Junior Internationalist Adam Murphy leads their line and whilst they are competitive, as shown by their Bea team who escaped relegation on the last day, I believe that every team will look favourably at this fixture, but if Sheriff Martin has anything to do with it, then they may just escape consecutive falls. Closer to home is Ruy Lopez and it is with sadness that they wave goodbye to Vinajak Unitham who was their top scorer last year with 6/10. No question that the Ratoath team will take points of everyone…of course they will….but will they get enough points to survive…that is the real question that needs answering.

Just one team left and it is ours……losing one good player is difficult for any team…we have lost our 3 strongest rated players from last season’s Bea winning team, yet, we will stand strong together led by Mark Cummins. The reality is that this has resulted in a team hopeful of chasing promotion into one of transition. We have some very good juniors moving up, a couple of experienced match players and an old dinosaur who will fight tooth and nail against extinction, (munchies will help!) ….nevertheless, it is a team in transition and the lowest rated in the division.

Should any team see us as easy pickings……then by all means, come and play…………..we’re not giving  up without a scrap!!

Prediction time, and I’ve never voted against any Blanch team I’ve been involved in, so Ruy Lopez and Naomh Barrog are my picks for the drop…so there!!


Go to it Guys!! and Gals.

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