Battle at the top for Corinthians

The highlight of the weekend’s AIB League matches takes place at Corinthian Park on Saturday when the home side takes on Co Carlow in the battle for top spot in division three.

Corinthians currently occupy that position with 40 points, but they face a side, currently in second place with 37 points, who will travel to Galway intent on hunting them down.

Statistics reveal there is little between these sides. Both have suffered just two defeats to date - Corinthians against Old Wesley and Midleton; Co Carlow against Ards and Connemara. However Corinthians’ superior points come from an extra win and bonus point, while their opponents were forced to a 3-3 draw with Rainey Old Boys.

Interestingly Carlow have conceded the fewest amount of points by some way, just 84, compared with 149 for Corinthians, indicating a well organised defence that Corinthians must break down to take the points.

Both sides are enjoying their best season for several years. Carlow had a meteoric rise from junior through the ranks to division one in which they played for four years. But that came at a cost, both on and off and field, and now Carlow are intent on rebuilding again.

Corinthians’ All Ireland League history has not been as dramatic, but their steady progress and underage development has them well placed now to capitalise. After a hiccup in January against Midleton, they have got their campaign back on track with some deserved wins both home and away. And with a run-in that includes Waterpark and Naas away, and another tough top of the table home fixture against Queens, Saturday’s fixture could have a huge bearing on the title race.

Corinthians, with home advantage and in pole position, hold several aces, not least winger Darren Claasens who has the pace to exploit any space out wide. They will need to take all their opportunities against Co Carlow in what is expected to be a highly competitive top of the table clash.

In division one Galwegians face a difficult assignment away to Blackrock College. Galwegians’ potential has not been realised this season as their form has blown hot and cold. They have enjoyed some well-merited wins, but their failure to turn possession and territory into points has proved costly. Once again their lack of bonus points is crucifying their hopes of finishing in the top eight, and their last loss, at home to Clontarf, saw them fall to 12th place, one behind Buccaneers. Blackrock, with just one more win than Galwegians, occupy fifth place - the difference being their superior six bonus points.

If Galwegians are to realise their ambitions of finishing in the top eight, they need to get something from this match.

In other action 10th placed Connemara are at home to seventh-placed Nenagh Ormond, and they could well move up the ladder if they make home advantage count, while Buccaneers host an attractive double-header in Dubarry Park. The seniors entertain St Mary’s College at 2.30pm, which precedes a South-West Conference u-20 League play-off between Buccaneers and Garryowen at 4.30pm.


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