CELTIC Bhoys seconds were cock-a-hoop on Saturday night after clinching the Newcastle League’s Division 2 title.
Mark Leahy’s charges went into the lion’s den at Binnian Park to face challengers Valley Rangers Colts and after going behind early on fought back to record a 4-2 victory that was good enough to clinch the title.
This has been a remarkable achievement for the Hoops, who have only been in existence for two years.
With one game still to play, they have gone through their league programme with only two defeats.
They’ve won 19 of their 23 games, drawn two and lost two — to Rathfriland Colts and Newcastle Colts. They’ve scored 105 goals and conceded just 31.
They also have a great chance of completing a league and cup double when they take on Newcastle Colts in the final of the Bignian Cup at Jubilee Park, Moneyslane, on Monday, May 1.
A jubilant Mark Leahy couldn’t contain his delight on the final whistle.
“Valley made it hard for us out there, but we had enough in the tank to see them off. The boys can enjoy tonight and then we get ready for the cup final against Newcastle Colts on May Day,” he said.
“There will be no resting on our laurels after that as I intend strengthening the squad in preparation for playing in Division 1 next year. That will be a big step up, but the players are more than capable of competing at a higher level.
“Nevertheless, I would intend bringing in a few new faces just to freshen things up. We have more than a few good young players who are knocking on the door for a place in the first team and I will need to replace them,” he added.
Meanwhile, the race for the Premier and Division 1 titles is really heating up.
Defending champions Ballyvea lead the pack in the top flight with only one game left to play —away to Annalong Swifts tomorrow night. Win it they retain the trophy.
Should they lose or draw, Carryduff Colts can become champions if they beat Mourne Rovers at home on Saturday.
Annalong also have a mathematical chance of winning the league, but they have to win the last four games and need Ballyvea and Carryduff to slip up.
The race for the Division 1 title is also reaching fever point.
It seems to be a four-horse race with Dundrum United, Strangford, Carryduff Athletic and Dromara Village seconds all in with a shout.
Dundrum lead the way with four games remaining, but the other challengers are breathing down their neck.
Should Strangford win their four games in hand, they will move level with Dundrum, who still have to play Carryduff Athletic, Strangford, Ballyvea seconds and Drumaness Mills Reserves.
Strangford face eight games in three weeks against Ardglass, Ballyvea seconds (twice), Castlewellan seconds, Ballynahinch United (twice) and, of course, Dundrum.
Carryduff Athletic have yet to play Dundrum, Strangford, Dromara Village seconds, Drumaness Mills Reserves and Kirkistown. That leaves Dromara with Carryduff, Kirkistown, Ballynagross (twice) and Drumaness Mills Reserves.
Picking a winner out of that lot will be no easy task with many twists and turns expected before the end of the season.