Updated: Oct 26, 2018
There will be drama at the top of O'Neill's Antrim ACFL Division 2 this Saturday afternoon, as four teams bid for the coveted top two promotion spots.
Three of those teams, Tír na nÓg, St Brigid's and Gort na Móna, are all still in with a shout of taking the league title, while the best Naomh Séamas can hope for is the thin prospect of promotion. Just to add a little spice, if it were needed, the game in Moneyglasss throws in half an hour after the others. The important fixtures are as follows:
A. St Brigid's v Tír na nÓg - Musgrave Park - 2pm
B. Naomh Séamas v Cúchullain's Dunloy - St James' - 2pm
C. St Ergnatt's Moneyglass v Gort na Móna - Moneyglass - 2:30pm
A win for any of the top three will cement promotion to Division 1 for 2019, while only an Aldergrove win over Dunloy will put them back in the mix for promotion.
At present, the Randalstown men sit in top spot, as their superior score difference comes into play with themselves, St Brigid's and Gort na Móna all tied on equal points. Let's take a look at some of the permutations*. There are more than these, but I've tried to only include those that would have a bearing on the status quo. Grab a strong coffee and brace yourself. Maybe do a few sudoku puzzles in preparation.
A. Draw B. Draw. C. Draw
In the event that all three games end in a draw, the top four remains as it is, with Tír na nÓg crowned champions and St Brigid's promoted in second place. There would be heartbreak for Gort na Móna, who would miss out on promotion just a week after their IFC final loss to Naomh Éanna.
A. Draw B. Naomh Séamas C. Draw
In this scenario, similar to above, Tír na nÓg will be champions and St Brigid's promoted. Gort na Móna again miss out, the only difference being that the Aldergrove men finish with two extra points.
A. Draw B. Naomh Séamas. C. Gort na Móna
A draw between Tír na nÓg and St Brigid's would see both miss out on the title, which would be taken by the men from Turf Lodge with St Brigid's taking second spot on head-to-head score difference between themselves and Tír na nÓg (currently +3 to the Belfast men).
A. St Brigid's B. Naomh Séamas C. Gort na Móna
Now it gets interesting. A win for St Brigid's would see them promoted, but accompanied with a Gort na Móna victory would see the Gorts take the title on head-to-head, where they have a 2-0 lead. Tír na nÓg would finish third, scant consolation of course but interestingly it would need settled on overall score difference as head-to-head score difference between them and Naomh Séamas is equal on 32 points apiece.
A. Tír na nÓg B. Naomh Séamas C. Gort na Móna
In this instance, Tír na nÓg would be champions. Despite a Gort na Móna win taking them equal on points, the Whitehill men hold a 2-0 lead on the head-to-head, but the Turf Lodge men would be promoted. St Brigid's would retain third spot as they have the upper hand on the head-to-head with Naomh Séamas.
A. Tír na nÓg B. Naomh Séamas C. St Ergnatt's
This is the only set of results that would see the Aldergrove men promoted, and even then it would be dependent on score difference. Tír na nÓg would be crowned champions on 24 pts and be home and dry. With St Brigid's, Gort na Móna and Naomh Séamas now all on 22 pts, score difference would come into play. Naomh Séamas currently hold a score difference of +55 while Gort na Móna sit on +60 and St Brigid's on +61. In the even of two defeats, their score difference would take a bit of a hit but Naomh Séamas could guarantee they overtake them if they win by 7 pts or more.
UPDATE (26/10/18 @ 16:50pm): Dunloy have now conceded the game against Naomh Séamas. As the Aldergrove side will no longer have the opportunity to accrue sufficient score difference, they are out of the promotion reckoning.
I wholeheartedly regret beginning this, as my head is spinning trying to figure out if I have missed any glaring possibilities. I'm sure someone will let me know via Twitter or Facebook if that is the case!
* Permutations based on the current League regulations published here: https://antrim.gaa.ie/assets/documents/2018-All-County-League-Regulations.pdf