Armagh hoping to secure top-four position going into the new year

Due to a number of matches already being cancelled because of Covid-19 there will be no automatic promotion or relegation in the All Ireland League this season.

Saturday, 11th December 2021, 8:00 am

The top four in each division will go into semi final playoffs with the side finishing top and second having home advantage, and the winners of each meeting to decide the one promotion place.

The bottom two in each division will meet in a home and away game with the loser on aggregate being relegated.

Armagh currently sit fourth in Division 1B and coach Chris Parker is hoping to finish the first half of the season before the Christmas break with a win over second placed Old Wesley at the Palace Grounds.

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Armagh Coach Chris Parker. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Bryan Keane

“It would be really nice to be in the top four at the halfway stage,” he said. “Naas have closed the gap in the last two weeks with two really good results for them, we’ll try our best but it is not make or break but I would still like to be there.

“When we saw the fixture list we knew Christmas and January was going to be tough. It is one you look forward to because they are one of the teams that we are chasing. Hopefully we can cement ourselves in the top four and catch up with the likes of Wesley if we can get a home win on Saturday.”

Despite losing at leaders Highfield last week Parker was satisfied with his side’s display.”

“We were happy with the performance watching it back we just came up against a really quality outfit who are really clinical,” he said.

“We maybe only give them four entries into our 22 and they scored from three of them, they are just the margins between the team that is at the top of the league and a team that is mid table.

“The boys came away with an idea of what we have to aspire to and how clinical we have to be if we really want to challenge them. We were disappointed not to get a losing bonus point but we were pleased with the performance and hopefully it is something we can build upon.”

James Morton returns to the Armagh squad from suspension.

Malone, currently eighth, are hoping for a change of fortunes as they travel to third place St Mary’s.

“We have been a bit unlucky at times but you have to make your own luck and we just have to win rugby games and that is what we have got to try and do on Saturday at St Mary’s,” said Wilbur Leacock.

“Against Shannon we put in a good first half performance and scored a couple of tries but probably didn’t put enough points on the board in the first half and a couple of yellow cards in the second half killed us.

“It is tough enough to get a win with 15 but when you are down to 14 men for 20 minutes you can’t do it in a tight game like that.

“St Mary’s are doing well and they are a good side we just have to go down there and see what we can do.

“It has been a tough enough first half for us with injuries and a few games that we should have won. It would be great to go into the Christmas break with a win.”

Tommy O’Hagan, Adam McNamee, James McAllister, Johnny Betts and Rory Campbell are all missing for Malone.

Banbridge seven points adrift at the bottom of the table host Old Belvedere while in Division 1A Ballynahinch looking a first win of the season welcome second placed Lansdowne.