THE action resumes this weekend in the CCFL after the Christmas break with the Laois sides hoping to pick up where they left off as the business end of the season gets underway.
In the Senior Division, Arlington FC have a crucial game as they look to keep up their pursuit of leaders Willow Park. Currently in second place just three points off the lead, the Laois side welcome third placed Melville to Castle Park on Sunday. With just five game remaining including this Sunday’s encounter, it is close to a must win game for Arlington as a defeat would drop them to third and would leave them with a mountain to climb if they are to become the first Laois side to win the CCFL’s top division.
In the Premier Division, Clonaslee must win at home to Edenderry on Sunday if they are to keep their slim promotion hopes alive. With games running out, Clonaslee are in fourth place in the table, six points off second place and will need a win this weekend if they are to start to close that gap.
In Division 1 Gracefield Athletic are currently in second place with a host of teams queueing up behind them. They face a tough challenge this weekend to maintain that spot as they travel to play runaway leaders Mullingar Town. One of the teams chasing strongly behind Gracefield are Stradbally and a win away to fellow challengers Killeigh Ramblers this Sunday would catapult them right into contention
There is an all Laois derby in Division 3A with Ballybrittas travelling to face St Aengus and a win for the visitors would keep their challenge for the runners up spot in the division alive.
With four teams still in the hunt, it is all to play for in the all Laois Division 4A. Current leaders Portlaoise Shamrocks would be favourites to come away with a win when they make the short trip to Mountmellick. Behind them fourth plays second this weekend as Maryborough host Midlands Celtic in an all Laois derby that is pivotal for both sides.
It is also a big weekend of cup action with six Laois teams in action in the John Farrell Combined Counties Cup 2nd Round.
There is one all Laois tie and it is a battle of the Celtics as Emo host Noreside. Emo are seventh in Division 3A while Noreside are second from bottom of Division 2. It should be an intriguing game in the Community Centre in Emo and home advantage could be the decisive factor.
Premier Division side Abbeyleix Athletic will go into their home game against Longford side Spartak Granard as red hot favourites. Abbeyleix are mid table in their tough division while Granard are bottom of Division 3 Saturday. Anything less than a comfortable win for Abbeyliex would be one of the shocks of the season.
Division 3A side Towerhill Rovers have the chance to down higher placed opposition when they host Athlone based Division 2 side Gentex on Sunday. Neither side are flying high in their own division giving Towerhill every chance if they perform well to make it through to Round 3.
While they have been struggling in the league, Rosenallis should be able to advance to the next round of the league’s premier cup with relative ease when they travel to play Division 4B strugglers St James FC.
Division 4A high fliers Portarlington Town will be hoping their league form transfers to the cup when they travel to South Offaly to face Shinrone who are third from bottom of Division 1. They have a great chance to pull off a giant killing act and get their name into the hat for round 3.