Last Saturday night brought the curtain down on one of the most successful seniors’ seasons ever in Carlow League history.
The league had the courage and wisdom to attempt to run a short season at the end of June when lockdown restrictions were lifted and while there was apprehension and unease if the clubs would buy into a season run over 12 weeks instead of 6 months the plan proved to be more successful than anyone could ever have imagined.
With a record entry of 16 teams and 5 competitions, the nonstop action provided four different winners for the five competitions.
Slaney Rovers is the only club winning league and cup double as they won both Division 2 competitions.
Crettyard won the division one league title while St Pat’s Boys in their first season at seniors won the Mullins cup and Killeshin won the Division one cup seeing trophies spread all around the county.
The league announced at the end of May it was interested in running a short season and by the second week of June had received record entries. The 16 clubs were split into two divisions of eight and the league kicked off on the 25th of June. Such was the success of the entries the League decided to run the Martin Mullins cup which is a cup competition for all 16 teams given the division 2 sides a chance to compete against the top sides.
The first couple of rounds were played midweek to make sure it didn’t affect the leagues and the semi-finals and Finals played after the leagues. The two divisional cups were run off over three weeks when the leagues finished meaning it took just 16 weeks from start to finish to play the five competitions.
The league campaigns started on the 25th of June and the clubs played every week with just the August bank holiday weekend off meaning that after 9 weeks the two leagues finished on the weekend of the 21st of August with Crettyard winning the division one title for the second time in three months having won the delayed 2020 title in early June.
The division two crown was left to go to a playoff after Slaney Rovers and St Fiaccs couldn’t be split after the seven games finishing level on 18 points each. Again, the two teams agree to play the play-off midweek to ensure the cup competitions ran smoothly and some play-off it was with penalties needed as Slaney Rovers won the league.
The following weekend saw the 16 teams play the 8 divisional quarter-finals with the next three weekends seeing the semi-finals played and the standard was amazing with division two side St Fiaccs reaching the Mullins cup final knocking out several division sides on the way.
It was the first final played and they came up against local rivals St Pat’s in a massive derby game, but it proved to be just one step too far as Pats won the trophy in their first season in the senior’s league.
The following weekend saw the two divisional cup finals played with Division 2 sides Slaney and Burrin going head-to-head on a Friday night while the division one final was played Saturday evening concluding five competitions in just 16 weeks thanks to the support and understanding of all the clubs and the local referee’s branch.
Slaney rovers completed a remarkable season when they beat Burrin by two goals to one to complete a fantastic double for the club.
The division one title went to Killeshin who stopped St Pat’s from winning a double of their own in a very close game.
Roll Of Honour Seniors O35’s 2021
Division one champions – Crettyard United
Division two champions – Slaney Rovers
Division One cup winners – Killeshin FC
Division two cup winner – Slaney Rovers
Martin Mullins memorial cup winner – St Patrick’s boys.