The shortest game of the Clare Premier Division season, and perhaps Clare league history, will be played this weekend with the outcome of its six minute duration having a huge bearing on the destination of this year’s title.
Newmarket Celtic and Avenue United will meet at McDonough Park on Sunday morning at 10.30am for the completion of a tie which was originally played last September.
The home side were leading 2-1 with the game in the 90th minute, but a serious injury to an Avenue United player resulted in the game being abandoned by referee Shane Hayes. An ambulance was called to attend to the injured player, which arrived shortly after the game had been abandoned.
Rule 52 of the Clare District Soccer League states: “In the case of abandoned or unfinished fixtures the Executive Committee shall investigate the circumstances, and shall have the power to order a replay, play the unexpired time in two equal periods, or award the points or tie. In the case of unexpired time being ordered to be played, it will not be compulsory for the teams concerned to field the same players who participated in the original fixture, but it will be compulsory that each team start with the same amount of players as they finished with at the time of the abandonment or unfinished fixture”.
The Clare Champion sought clarification from league chairman Oliver Fitzpatrick on the reasons why the decision was taken to play out six minutes. This clarification was sought by email on Monday morning last, but at the time of going to print on Wednesday evening, no reply had been received. The game is set to be played for a total of six minutes, with a half-time break midway through. Shane Hayes will be the official in charge.
As things stand, Avenue United are sitting top of the Premier Division standings with 26 points, one ahead of Newmarket but the holders still have a game in hand as the league season moves past the halfway point.
There is another tie for down for decision in the Premier Division this Sunday, with the Shannon derby of Town v Hibs in Lynch Park set to run for the full 90 minutes from 2pm.
The 2020 Clare Cup rolls on this weekend with three more ties down for decision in the second round.
The pick of the bunch may well be in Lahinch where Sporting Ennistymon and Kilrush Rangers cross swords in what will be an intriguing tie. Sporting have won back to back league games with six goals scored and just one conceded. Kilrush are struggling in the league, but were impressive 4-1 winners over Shannon Hibs B in the opening round. The two sides drew 2-2 when they met in the league back in October, and it could be another high scoring game that may take longer than the 90 minutes to decide.
Bridge United came through a tough test against Kilkishen last weekend, and this time around welcome Kildysart Celtic to Sixmilebridge. Kildysart are struggling for form and currently sit bottom of the First Division standings, so it is hard to see past a home win.
The other second round tie pits Premier Division bottom side Turnpike Rovers take on Second Division Shannon Town B. Shannon Town B have scored 17 goals in their six league games so far, with Turnpike conceding 39 in their 11 games. It has the potential for an upset, but might need added time to deliver it.
In the First Division League, the B sides of Newmarket Celtic and Avenue United will see much more action than their A team counterparts when they clash in McDonough Park at 11am. It is also a top of the table clash, with Avenue currently holding the prime position by virtue of scoring difference. The Ennis side also has a game in hand, and victory here would see them in a strong position to push on for the title.
Elsewhere in the First Division, there is a town derby as Lifford B take on Ennis Town where the B side need the points to move away from the relegation battle. Town will be bidding to continue their push up the table and with 10 goals in their last three league games they should continue that progress.
Mountshannon Celtic host Corofin Harps with these sides also hoping for points to move into the top half of the table. Both have been in patchy form so far, but home advantage might just swing it for Mountshannon.
Second Division Fixtures: Manus Celtic A v Rhine Rovers, Coole FC v Rineanna Rovers, Moher Celtic B v Bridge Utd B.
Third Division Fixtures: Cloughleigh Celtic v Shannon Town C, Inch Crusaders v Shannon Hibs B, Ennis Dons v Manus Celtic B.