BSJ join AFL1 big boys

by James Hendicott
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BALLINTEER St John’s footballers won their second title of the year as they clinched the AFL 2 top spot over the weekend, after Raheny did them a favour by dismissing their local rivals Naomh Olaf.
It was a dramatic second-tier run in for the club who went into the final week of the season both needing a win, and also for their rivals to slip up, to take the single automatic promotion places and a 2018 spot in the top league.
In a twist to the story, both sides were playing Raheny. After Ballinteer saw off the maroon and whites on Wednesday night to pass the buck to their main rivals, Raheny then went on to topple Naomh Olaf by nine points. In doing so, Raheny confirmed their own play-off place, handing the title to Ballinteer in the process.
Having already taken the AIB Cup with a final victory over Na Fianna earlier this year, though, Ballinteer are a formidable side.
“Adult football co-ordinator Gerry O’Donnell sees much of the success as coming from work done by boss Gail Dunne, and the promotion of players from the minor and under-21 panels over recent years.
“We’re delighted to be in division one,” O’Donnell told GazetteSport. “There’s no comparison between this team and the one we put out last year.
“The new manager, Gail Dunne, came in over Christmas that year without much build up, and we were average.
“The focus on this season started back in December 2016. We don’t really have any star players that we depend on but there are a number of players who have three, four or five years of senior experience now, and we’ve built a management team that really know what they’re doing.
“Every manager of the last eight to 10 years – and there’s been a few – has given the lads something that contributed to this success.
“We had a plan B, of course, with the playoffs if Naomh Olaf had won over the weekend. But to win outright makes a big difference.
“The beauty of getting the outright league win and the promotion is it now means we can take a break.
We’ll still be back training by late November but these guys have earnt a few weeks off, they’ve been on the go for the last ten months.
“Our first aim next year will be to consolidate our position.
“We’d like to thank chairman Ken Aherne for his support in recent years, as well as the club members, who have followed the team around this year.
“Of course we’re realistic about what comes next, but we’re really looking forward to playing the likes of Crokes, Boden and Vincent’s next time around,” O’Donnell concludes.

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