WAYSIDE Celtic host UCD on Sunday in a South-Dublin derby that could have significant implications for both sides’ battle to remain in the Leinster Senior League’s top tier.
Wayside sit two points above the drop zone after last weekend’s game at Tolka Rovers was controversially ordered to be replayed to the dismay of the Dun Laoghaire side.
The match was abandoned eight minutes from the end with the visitors leading 2-0. Celtic had expected the result to stand give how little time remained, however a replay has been called.
A win would have seen Celtic climb to 21 points alongside Sunday’s opponents, who sit in seventh, which shows just how tight a division Senior Sunday is this season.
“It’s so tight down there,” Celtic manager Peter Lennon told GazetteSport ahead of the derby.
“From fifth down there’s only a win or a loss separating everybody. Every game in the Leinster Senior League is tight. Everybody is capable of beating anybody.
“That’s why the league is so popular, and that’s why junior clubs are now aspiring to get into the Leinster Senior League, because it’s so unpredictable.”
In so competitive a league, there’s no guarantee Wayside will beat Tolka when the game is rescheduled, and that could play into the hands of the Students in their own quest for safety.
Diarmuid McNally’s side have likewise struggled for consistency this season but have been boosted by the return of strikers Samir Belhout and Conor Cannon.
They’ve had the upper hand over their South Dublin rivals in recent years, and they recorded an emphatic 3-0 victory in UCD in October.
“They’ve kind of had a hoodoo over us,” Lennon admitted. “We’ve struggled to beat them over the last number of years. Even games we’ve dominated we’ve ended up losing. That has to change sometime.
“They’re a good side, well-organised and well-drilled, and they’ve got a huge pick of players down there.
“I know Diarmuid McNally. He’s there a long time and he’s passionate. They’re always good sides. I’ve never seen a bad UCD team.”
The sides traditionally compete for players in the soccer heartland of South Dublin, and both clubs have an ethos that seeks to promote local youth.
Lennon added: “We’ve rebuilt the team from scratch. We’ve had great sides and a great run of success over many years. At every level, that comes to a stall, and it’s how you readjust to get back.
“We’re doing it slowly and patiently with as many home-based players as we can. If we get players who are local, or local enough, you get longevity out it.
“You get players who are going to stay around. The team is a very young side, but there are some players now starting to show great promise.”