The top four in Division One continued their good start to the season with fine wins but the most impressive of the four victories has to be Dromore’s win away to Clonoe. The blues had managed two wins and a draw in their opening three games but the general consensus from their supporters was that they had not faced any tough challenges thus far and the real tests would come when they came up against what they perceived to be one of the stronger sides.
Well they don’t come much stronger than Clonoe away from home and Paul Mc Ivor’s side went into that game without several key players including top scorer this year Eoin Mc Cusker. However they made light of these absences and came away with a very convincing win which would have made the long journey home seem much less arduous. Paul Mc Ivor and Ryan Porter have their side purring along nicely and will be delighted with the form they are currently showing and the results they are chalking up.
I am always intrigued by the defensive records of successful teams because generally you find that a team with a mean defence is usually a difficult team to play against. Of the top four teams in Division One in Tyrone the team with the best defensive record is Errigal Ciaran who interestingly also have the best points for total. Peter Canavan must be delighted with the way his entire team is performing. Judging by the statistics he seems to have found the perfect balance between defence and attack scoring more than two points for every one point conceded. Such returns are the type of thing that has American sporting commentators wetting themselves with mock excitement but will hardly bring about more than a rye smile from the maestro.
Ardboe and Carrickmore have continued their impressive form and Carrickmore sit proudly with a 100% record following their hard fought win over a resolute Derrylaughan side. The loughshore men must be wondering what they did to deserve getting Dromore and Carrickmore in back to back fixtures but they certainly made the league leaders battle all the way. Once again however the Carmen spirit and resolve shone through as they edged a very competitive game to maintain their perfect four out of four start. Kieran Mc Bride will be delighted with how his team is performing but knows that tougher tests lie ahead and that in terms of the destiny of the league title it will be the games against the three sides immediately below him at present that will decide its outcome.
Ardboe have lots of talent in their ranks and are beginning to produce some very consistent football. They struggled to a draw against Derrylaughan in their opening game but with players returning from injury are beginning to look the part. The key for them is to maintain discipline and hope to keep their top players free from injury. They were imperious at times against Omagh and are sure to have a huge say in the final outcome of the league and championship this year. Their next match which is away to Carrickmore will give us a better idea of just how good this Ardboe team might be.
Contrastingly with the form of the top sides the position at the bottom of the table is beginning to ring alarm bells already in some clubs. Cookstown are still pointless and their most recent defeat was one that they really needed to avoid if they are to get their season started. Second bottom team Killyclogher came into this season hoping to be challenging for honours but now find themselves with only a point to show from four games and any hope of a good league campaign fast evaporating. These two sides along with Derrylaughan and Moy know the importance of a win next time out if they are to start climbing the table.
It just so happens that these sides will face each other in the next round of league fixtures with Moy due to face Fr Rocks and the Kevin Barry’s making the trip to Killyclogher. You get the feeling that whoever loses these games will begin to see the relegation trap door opening for them with only a third of the league programme completed.