Shock promotion for Irish

Halifax Irish boss Chris Ellerby
Halifax Irish boss Chris Ellerby

Halifax Irish have accepted an invitation to play in the West Riding County Amateur League’s top flight at less than a fortnight’s notice.

Chris Ellerby’s side, who finished fourth in Division One last season and won the divisional cup, will take the place of Marsden who have resigned from the league.

Irish, who were relegated from the top flight three seasons ago, will make their Premier return at Golcar on Wednesday week and will then play local rivals Ovenden West Riding at the Natty Lane ground that they share the following Saturday.

Ellerby said: “We got a call on Friday from the league and it was a bit of a shock really because we were preparing to play in the first division this year and had built a squad for that.”

The Irish committee voted to accept the league’s invitation over the weekend and Ellerby admitted there had been “a mixed reaction from the lads.”

He said a couple of players were probably leaving but a couple who were due to depart might stay.

“We’ve probably got 14 good players but we really need 16. I don’t think we will disgrace ourselves,” said Ellerby, who took over as boss from Nick McConnell a season and a half ago when Irish were really struggling.

Huddersfield YMCA were the only side due to go up from Division One before the latest developments. Ellerby thought Irish might have been next in line for promotion as the top ranked team to meet the entry criteria for the Premier, as well as creating a favourable impression in front of league chiefs at last season’s cup final.

Irish will complete their pre-season programme with friendlies against Warley Rangers on Wednesday and Brighouse Old Boys on Saturday.