Dunloy, Ballymena

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Review - Derry ACFL Division 2

St Mary's Banagher celebrate winning Division 2.

At the beginning of the season, Division 2 threw up an intriguing prospective title battle between Foreglen and recently relegated Banagher, and it was the Feeny men who returned to the top table at the first attempt, not only winning the league, but defeating Newbridge in a promotion play-off in between securing the IFC and the James O'Hagan Cup.

There was some late drama at the cut-off point for Division 1B, St Mary's Faughanvale clinching the final automatic spot, while Sarsfields Ballerin had to settle for a play-off against Division 3 champions Limavady, which they duly lost to condemn them to Division 2 for 2019.

1st - St Mary's Banagher - 24pts

Honours: Division 2 champions, IFC champions, James O'Hagan Cup winners, Promotion to Div 1A.

In a trophy-laden season for the Feeny footballers, the league title was perhaps their tightest challenge of all. Having lost out to Castledawson early in the season, St Mary's found themselves trailing fierce rivals Foreglen for much of the season, only to leapfrog them late in the season after defeating them by two points.

Banagher cut loose on Lissan a week later to secure the league, Peter Hagan and Mark Lynch orchestrating a demolition as the Feeny outfit clinched a rare league title. The triumph springboarded a championship campaign in which Tiarnan Moore starred, but St Mary's were to heartbreakingly exit the Ulster IFC at the Semi-Final stage on free kicks against Mullahoran of Cavan.

2nd - O'Brien's Foreglen - 24pts

Agonisingly close, the Foreglen side led fierce rivals Banagher for the majority of the season, only to be pipped in the penultimate game as they fell to defeat against St Mary's.

While they lacked Banagher's firepower, Foreglen were able to boast the most tenacious defence in the league, conceding a total score of 158 points.

O'Brien's also suffered heartbreak in the championship at the hands of their nemesis, crashing out to Banagher after a replay.

3rd - St Malachy's Castledawson - 18pts

The only team to defeat the champions during the league campaign, St Malachy's were still in contention in the final third of the season, before petering out in the run up to championship.

Boasting the second highest goalscoring record in the league with 28, the Castledawson men were more than able to find the net, with Aidan McElhone continuing to lead the attack at full-forward.

Defeats to Steelstown, Foreglen, Drumsurn and Ballerin saw an end to the Castledawson title challenge as they tailed off to finish 3rd.

4th - St Trea's Ballymaguigan - 18pts

With a forward line led by Darren Conway and Underdog Sean Brady providing the engine, St Trea's Ballymaguigan came in 4th in the league before embarking on a IFC campaign that took them all the way to the final where they were defeated by Banagher.

Averaging 1.8 goals per game, the Ballymaguigan men hit 23 in total, but in conceding 17 they significantly reduced their goal difference. Their most satisfying league victory actually came in a game in which they didn't score a goal as they defeated Lissan 0-22 to 0-08.

5th - Steelstown Brian Óg's

Honours: Intermediate Reserve Championship Winners

Steelstown began their campaign with a win, loss and a draw, hitting 1-11 on two separate occasions. The city men had a keen eye for goal and hit 24 over the season, ranking third in the league for goals scored. Their early victory over Castledawson had the potential to kick start the season, but ultimately losses to Lissan, Ballymaguigan, Foreglen and Banagher saw them finish outside the top four.

6th - St Matthew's Drumsurn - 14pts

With the fourth meanest defence in the league, Drumsurn had something of a reputation for solid defence, particularly when it came to points conceded, as they ranked third in the league.

An early victory over Castledawson looked promising for St Matthew's and another memorable result was the 2-22 to 2-09 turnover of Ballymaguigan, a team they would later meet in championship action.

7th - St Mary's Faughanvale - 13pts

A solid season for the North Derry men who consolidated their position in the 2019 Division 1B and also contested an U21 Championship Final against Magherafelt.

In league action, they lost as much as they won, but finished with a healthy score difference of +52 and were able to boast the tightest defence in the league, only conceding nine goals over the course of their 13 games.

8th - Sarsfields Ballerin - 12pts

Ultimately seeing relegation to the new Division 2 for 2019 via a play-off against Division 3 winners Limavady, the Sarsfields played an attacking brand of exciting football any time we witnessed them.

In Liam Brown and Eugene Mullan, their full-forward line boasts firepower, but things didn't seem to click for them as often in league action, with only eighteen goals over the season, while conceding 21.

Ballerin will be disappointed not to have managed to stay in 1B through the play-off but will regroup for a push at Division 2 next season.

9th - St Mary's Slaughtmanus - 12pts

Despite finishing in the bottom half with a Goal Difference of -10, Slaughtmanus' tenacity further out the field saw them finish with an Total Difference of +9 and concede the lowest number of points in Division 2.

Their most convincing result of the league was a 4-21 to 2-05 victory over Doire Trasna, in which they hit a third of their entire goals total for the league.

10th - St Martin's Desertmartin - 11pts

With the fifth highest goal total in the league at 21, Desertmartin did show a cutting edge at times, but their defence just wasn't tight enough to see their goals lift them up the league and they will probably look at their 2-15 to 1-06 defeat of Ballerin as their brightest match. Ranked ninth in the league for points scored, this is another area they will look to improve going into next season.

11th - St Michael's Lissan - 10pts

The league's third lowest goalscorers (13) and fourth lowest point scorers (122), St Michael's struggled at both ends in what was a tough season. Their 1-16 to 1-08 win over Drum was probably their most polished result, but they will be looking to improve next season.

12th - St Joseph's Craigbane - 6pts

Ranked second from bottom in league goals conceded (25), the 2018 season will not be too fondly recalled by St Joseph's Craigbane as they finished third from bottom with a score difference of -90. The 2011 Ulster IFC winners were unable to call on forward Lee Moore who is currently in Australia, and they struggled for scores, only managing 149 for the season.

13th - Doire Trasna - 4pts

Doire Trasna had the second worst Goal Difference, Point Difference and Total Difference in Division 2 and fittingly finished second from bottom. Their two victories came over St Michael's Lissan and St Colm's Drum, while they collected a point for a draw against both Desertmartin and Craigbane. They did however come within three points of third-placed St Malachy's Castledawson in July, losing 1-15 to 2-15.

14th - St Colm's GAC Drum - 0pts

A season to forget for St Colm's who remained rooted to the bottom of Division 2 throughout the season, failing to earn a single point. Their total of six goals was the lowest in the league, while they averaged only 8.4 points per match, conceding an average of 23.7 points per match. They will hope to regroup next season in the rejuvenated Division 2.

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Your statistical taste buds tingling? Have a read at our Division 3 review.