All aboard the Onchan Express

League Week 2 Report by Mark Kneen

The Onchan A express got their title challenge firmly back on track at the top of Isle of Man Bank Men’s League Division One last Monday as they steamed to an 8-2 victory over Douglas A, derailing the visitor’s hopes of an upset in the process.

In theory this sounds like a one sided affair however the reality on the night was very different and with only 7 points separating 8 games this is the closest 8-2 I have ever witnessed. If all of Douglas’ players had scored one more point or conceded one less they would have left with a 5-5 draw, as they would have turned around a 21-20 defeat and taken the two aggregate points.

After such a valiant attempt away at the champion’s lair many would say that the men from the Villa deserved more. In sport, however, you don’t get what you deserve, you don’t get what you are given, you get what you take and the champions took their chances and in more than one game on the night grabbed victory from the jaws of defeat.

This close encounter leaves me with two enduring proofs. Firstly, Douglas proved that their new line up is a match for anybody, home or away, and that their challenge for honours must be taken seriously. Secondly, and more poignantly, Onchan proved why they are perennial Champions and that if anybody wants to challenge them they will do so the hard way, with a fight on their hands.

Marown A bounced back from last week’s defeat with a crushing 10-0 defeat of Peel A at the memorial playing fields. Peel had to postpone their first match due to snow on their green and made their return to the top tier the hard way, missing out on their first opportunity to put points on the board.

What Marown’s maximum did show is that it is not necessarily how you perform against the top teams but how big you win against the lower ranked teams which might determine the fate of the championship, as they moved to the top of the table. I think the boys from Crosby will definitely be there again in the shake-up come September, and if they can continue to rack up the big wins who knows how close they can get to Onchan?

All eyes were on a rejuvenated South Ramsey A who made their first appearance of the season and a 7-3 over Castletown B win has set them up nicely. They didn’t have things their own way however and Town pushed them all the way picking up another important 3 points. The focus will shift to the Villa Marina tonight (Monday) as the boys from South line up against Douglas with the result of this match possibly going someway to setting the tone for the rest of the season for these sides.

In the other top flight match up North Ramsey A produced some good performances to notch up their first win of the season beating Nobles Mixed 7-3. The men from Mixed have had a tough start to the season and will be looking to get some momentum going tonight as they host Ballaugh A.
Castletown C & D kept up their respective charges for glory at the top of division 2 both picking up 7-3 victories to maintain momentum after a strong start to the season by both sides. No club has ever had 3 teams in the top division and whilst I expect the D to flounder a little as the season progresses I think the C can go all the way and etch their club into the history books.

Douglas B notched up their first win of the season with a 7-3 victory over rivals Onchan whilst elsewhere Finch Hill B got the better of Peel C 7-3 in what could already be a battle for survival, even only two games into the season. Porst St Mary B overturned a 3-1 deficit to run out 7-3 winners at home to Ballaugh B whilst in the final game of the division much fancied Port Erin A won the local derby downing Port St Mary C 8-2.

The highlight of the third division this week has to be Port Erin B’s 10-0 defeat of Ballaugh C. Douglas C and Onchan C made it two wins out of two both claiming good 7-3 victories up north at South Ramsey and North Ramsey respectively. I think all of the teams in this division are capable of surprise results meaning that at this early stage things are far too close to call.