By Damian Dolan
The London ladies leagues couldn’t be more delicately poised as they head into the decisive round of matches on Saturday.
In intermediate, Tir Chonaill Gaels go into Round 5 knowing that a draw will guarantee them a place in the final on 19 June.
The only problem is that game is against Parnell’s – a side who’ve looked ominously good since their one-point defeat to Round Towers in Round 2.
Tommie Donohue’s 2020 intermediate championship winners have a depth of quality in their ranks that is hard to match, and aside from that game with Towers are scoring very freely.
The likes of Hannah Noonan, Rebecca Mills, Alice O’Brien and Niamh Walsh have looked frighteningly good in their last two matches, while Laura Gillespie is scoring goals for fun. They’re also very fit.
A win for Parnell’s guarantees them a place in the final owing to their superior points difference.
TCG put the cat amongst the pigeons in Round 1 when they overturned a 1-6 to no score deficit after ten minutes against Towers to win by a goal, and Tony Geary’s side are not to be underestimated.
If the Greenford side are to progress, however, they’ll need another big game from star forward Lisa Walsh, who showed her class to get her side over the line against Kingdom Kerry Gaels last time out.
TCG will also look to the likes of Naoimhin Daly, Denise Doherty, Fiona Morrissey (is he returns from Ireland) and ex-New Zealand Under 20 soccer star Ashley Ward.
Defeat for TCG wouldn’t necessarily spell the end for them, as a win or a draw for Holloway Gaels over Round Towers would be enough for the Greenford side.
Holloway, intermediate league runners up in 2019, still have a chance of making the final themselves, so will be going all out.
Victory for Holloway is a must against Towers, but they also need TCG to beat Parnell’s.
Intermediate league winners in 2019, Towers’ route to the final is more straightforward. Beat Holloway and they’ll be in the decider.
Michael Maher’s side bounced back well from that opening round defeat to TCG, by edging out Parnell’s 1-4 to 1-3. They’ve since racked up some good scorelines.
If TCG, Parnell’s and Towers all finish level on points, then points difference will decide the finalists and that will favour Parnell’s and Towers.
In junior, it’s equally finely balanced. Dulwich Harps got the better of Tara in their top of the table clash with Tara, but even that impressive win doesn’t assure them of a place in the final.
Dulwich face a fast-improving St Anthony’s team on Saturday knowing that a draw will be enough, however. The game is a repeat of the 2019 junior league final, which Anthony’s won by 2-9 to 1-5.
After struggling to score against Tara in Round 1, Anthony’s have looked a different animal in their last few outings and will provide Dulwich with a stern examination.
Dulwich will need to be wary of the Reading side’s athletic midfield duo of Isabel Delaney and Fiona Keenan, half back Ciara Corrigan and forward Aoife Healy.
Tara will look to bounce back against Parnell’s, but will know that victory alone might not be enough.
If Anthony’s beat Dulwich, Tara will also need to be mindful of points difference. They’ll look to Gemma Taylor who has impressed so far for them.
Fr Murphy’s have the chance to pick up their third win of the campaign when they face winless Holloway Gaels, but Murphy’s inferior points difference means it’s highly unlikely they can force their way into the final reckoning.
Where two teams finish level on points, placings in the table will first be decided by the sides’ head-to-head meeting.
If three teams finish which level on points, scoring difference will be the first differential used.