*Referee Michael Rock. Photograph: Natasha Barton / CDSL

LAHINCH’S MICHAEL ROCK has been appointed as the referee for the meeting of rivals Avenue Utd and Newmarket Celtic to decide who is crowned Premier Division champions.

Avenue Utd defeated Newmarket Celtic 3-2 on Wednesday night to ensure a play-off was needed to determine this year’s league winners. A draw would have sufficed for Newmarket in their bid to win the title back from Avenue.

Wednesday’s tie was a tense one, in the aftermath Newmarket Celtic hit out at the verbal abuse received by members of their U10 squad from an Avenue Utd substitute while Avenue criticised the performance of the match officials as they had two goals disallowed, received five yellow cards and had manager David Russell sent off by referee Trevor White.

Such is the rivalry between the clubs that two referees had initially turned down the chance to referee Wednesday’s game in Roslevan.

CDSL officials have confirmed to The Clare Echo that Michael Rock will be the man in the middle for Saturday’s showdown which kicks off in Frank Healy Park at 6:30pm. The Lahinch man is a former gaelic football referee and was on the provincial panel for a spell, he took charge of the meeting of the clubs in the Munster Junior Cup earlier this season.

Trevor White who handled Wednesday’s tie is one of the two linesman alongside Brian Punch who held the same role earlier this week.

Elias Kunz who scored twice for Avenue Utd in the derby is out of the country and will miss the league decider. Apart from long-term injury Conor Mullen who is now part of the coaching ticket, Avenue boss Russell has a full pick to choose from.

Injuries are more of a problem for Newmarket Celtic with David O’Grady and Dean Hegarty both ruled out. The trio of Darragh Leahy, David McCarthy and Gearoid O’Brien were all doubts before the midweek game but played varying roles, their fitness will continue to be assessed along with that of centre-half Ethan Fitzgerald who missed the game and Stephen Kelly.

Entry to Saturday’s game will cost spectators just €5.

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Subscribe for just €3 per month

If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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