Last season saw very mixed fortunes for our league teams. In the Heindenfeld our first team were title contenders all season, eventually finishing second and earning their place back in the top division, the Armstrong. In division 4 our O’Hanlon team struggled all season and after losing their last crucial game of the season they should have been relegated. The start of this season however saw them thrown a lifeline, after some of the teams above them failed to enter for this season our second team miraculously managed to keep their place in the O’Hanlon for this season.
In the Armstrong, division 1, our first team were keen to learn from their previous experience at the top flight when they were promoted and sent straight back down. Now after bouncing straight back up they are keen not to repeat the mistakes of the past. Their first game of the season saw them at home against St Benildus. Out ranked on every board our team would be well challenged to take many points from a strong experienced St Benildus team. When the dust settled and both teams left the field of battle carrying their wounded it was the Blanchardstown team that had somehow come out on top, winning the match 5-3. An excellent winning start to the season.
In the O’Hanlon, For our second team that had struggled all last season, things weren’t about to get any easier, and staying up in the O’Hanlon wasn’t looking like a good thing as they faced into another long hard season. Firstly they would be without the services of the Dinosaur and son (Stefan and Piotr) for the first time in many seasons and looked like they just wouldn’t have the players, but never underestimate what some new young blood can do for a team.
First match of the new season saw the team up against the same opposition they had faced in their first game last season when they faced Bray/ Greystones. Last time around the fixture didn’t go too well for our Blanchardstown team, who were on the wrong end of a 4.5-1.5 scoreline. A new season a new headache, with some new eager youngsters in the squad, team captain Mark actual had all 7 players available to choose from, a first for this team.
The first game of the night to finish, was board 5, where Quin Bruin played an excellent game and had maneuvered his two rooks and queen onto the same rank and was threatening a back rank mate. After sacking his queen he went to play what he thought was the final move to mate his opponent, only to be told his rook was pinned to his king.. A rush of blood to the head and too eager to strike the final blow meant the had just missed the pin, and having just sacked his queen the game soon ended. A pity about the result, but certainly a promising young player and a vital addition to the team for this season. On Board 3, Mihail was next to fall as he was slowly suffocated and squashed into submission. With the score at 0-2 to Bray/Greystones, a quick look around the room saw Matthew on board 6 was down on material as was Mark on board 4 with both Vinayak and Randolf on boards 2 and 1 looking very drawish.. things weren’t looking positive.
Our newest player and the youngest player of the night, Matthew on board 6, was the first to step up and be counted. In a difficult ending he managed to completely out play his bishop/knight against this opponent’s rook and dominated the ending to earn the team their first win of the night and first win of the season. This was quickly followed up by a win on board 1 were Randolf had converted his superior pawn structure into a winning advantage in a very tight game to take our second win of the night. With the scoreline now at 2-2 the team had already done better than their performance last season with two games still to play.
Next up was captain Mark on board 4, who was up against Bray/ Greystones captain Allen Gaughan. Allen was Brays strongest performing player last season losing just the one game all season, so when Mark played a silly automatic move on move 5 to cause him to lose an early exchange (bishop for pawn) it was never going to end well. However he was now digging his heels in and fighting back to try salvage something from his game. After some good positioning, Mark managed to completely frustrate his opponent and claim a valuable draw for the team. With one game still to finish on board 2 the score was all square at 2.5-2.5.
Our board 2 was being ablely covered by Vinayak, who was a welcome addition back on the team after sitting leaving cert exams last season. The game focused around a single advanced pawn on the 6th that Vinayak was trying to promote. With both players maneuvering all their pieces in support it was a finally balanced end game. With both players under a little bit of time pressure Vinayak crafted some excellent combinations to break the deadlock and promote his pawn to win the game and the match for the team.
Inspired by our young stars the O’Hanlon team managed to do something rarely achieved by this team and win the match 3.5-2.5. Let’s hope that our rising young stars can work their magic again for our next game away to Drogheda in a couple of weeks time.