Draw with Valleys not enough to prevent league relegation for Castlehaven

Draw with Valleys not enough to prevent league relegation for Castlehaven
Aidan Pearce, Castlehaven, winning this ball from Aaron Lyons, Valley Rovers, during an U21 match. Their seniors recently drew in the league. Picture: Dan Linehan

THE highly competitive nature of the Rochestown Park Hotel Division 1 of the county leagues yielded its highest profile casualty with Castlehaven's relegation to the second division next season.

Their fate was sealed in the recent 1-14 each draw with Valley Rovers in Brinny, when the draw wasn't enough to prevent one of Cork's powerhouse football clubs from propping up the 11-team table.

The Haven wound up their campaign last weekend with a narrow 0-15 to 1-14 defeat to Skibbereen rivals, O'Donovan Rossa, who are one of several clubs in the relegation mix.

With two clubs demoted, there are a whole series of permutations at play in determining who will join the Haven in division 2 football in 2018.

The Haven won just one of their 10 games, a 1-10 to 0-11 victory over another west Cork club, Ilen Rovers, back in April, around the same time they overcame CIT by 1-14 to 0-12 in the first round of the championship.

Apart from their lone draw, the Haven lost eight times though they were competitive in most and their average defeat was just four points.

Yet, the big question remains about the relevance of the league in relation to the important issue of the championship.

Will the Haven's relegation impact on their prospects of landing the Andy Scannell Cup?

The answer is likely to be 'no' and it will be interesting to see how they fare against Carbery in round 2A of the championship in Dunmanway on Sunday, when there's the safety of another game should the result go against them.

There's no denying the Haven are in transition and it will take time for their youngsters to find their feet, but injuries and Cork commitments have taken a big toll, as well.

The Hurley brothers, Brian and Michael, have both suffered with injuries, especially the former, while Michael's involvement with Cork also restricted his availability.

It was the same with Mark Collins and Damien Cahalane and any club with county players knows, first hand, the problems associated with trying to free them up to play in league games.

The Haven are in good company because across the county bounds, Austin Stacks, the Munster Club champions in 2014, also lost their top-flight status in Kerry.

The Tralee club won just two of their 10 games to finish bottom of the table and relegated to division 2 next season.

Stacks are in the quarter-final of the championship, though, and due to meet West Kerry after the county team's All-Ireland campaign comes to an end.

Who accompanies the Haven in the drop zone is impossible to predict because a mere three points separate Nemo and Valleys on nine points to Ilen and Mallow on six with about a dozen games remaining.

Ballincollig continue to set the pace at the top followed by county champions, Carbery Rangers, in second, and the pair look poised for the semi-finals. As to who joins them is another matter entirely.

And just how clubs are going to fit in their remaining league games in an already packed schedule is one more issue.

A couple of clubs operating in the intermediate and premier intermediate championships lead the hunt to replace the Haven and one other.

Cill na Martra, one of the fancied sides for the intermediate title, are having a great season at the top of division 2 and through to the semi-final of the county U21 championship, as well.

Macroom, who'll have a crack off an impossible to predict premier championship, are also chasing promotion while Kiskeam, Douglas and Clyda Rovers are also in the frame.

Curiously, a couple of senior clubs, who were relegated from division 1 at the end of last season, are in danger of suffering back-to-back demotions.

Division 3 football beckons for Bishopstown, who've lost all six games, and Newcestown, who've managed one win in seven.

Naomh Abán, who are out of the premier intermediate championship, are also vulnerable while Éire Óg could be dragged into the equation, too.

Five clubs are in the chase for division 3 promotion.

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