BAHRAIN's Arabian Celts Gaelic Football Club (GFC) men's team retained their Top Four status in the Middle East League despite a tough time of it in the latest round of the championship in Oman over the weekend.
Heading into the competition with a strong squad, the Celts were looking to get a maiden tournament victory under the belt at a venue where they came so close last year.
Their chances took a couple of hammer blows before they'd even left Bahrain however, with towering midfielder Kieran Gallagher and talisman Denis Evans both pulling out.
The first match of the group stage saw the lads come under some immense pressure from hosts Clann na Homan but thankfully goalkeeper Sean Hargadon was in outstanding form and was able to keep them at bay.
The Celts regrouped and came out strong for the second half, when goals from Alan Burke and Martin Scannell turned the tide before further scores from Terry Kehoe and Joe Melia cemented the victory.
Next up for the Celts was old rivals Dubai and with Scannell once again playing tormentor-in-chief and Hargadon saving a penalty, they enjoyed a three-point lead at half-time.
Disaster struck early in the second half though when debutant midfielder Paddy Mahon pulled a hamstring and was forced out of the rest of the competition, meaning the Celts were now down to the bare minimum of nine players with no subs.
In a dramatic end-game, Dubai struck a late goal to take a two-point lead before Terry Kehoe had a last-minute chance to seal victory only to see his shot sail agonisingly wide of the post.
Further defeats to reigning league champions Qatar A and Al Ain saw the Celts miss out on a Cup semi-final place and instead they faced a rematch with Clann na hOman in the eighth/ninth place play-off.
Fearing their coveted Top Four under threat, the Celts responded in emphatic style to put the hosts to the sword with Pete Liebrich playing the game of his life in scoring four goals and a point and Scannell and Joel Webber also chipping in.
Dubai A went on to win the tournament and go top of the table in what is the most competitive season in the league's history.
The league moves on to Doha next month, where the Celts will once again be out to gain a top-four finish and therefore secure a place in the Championship Finals in Abu Dhabi in April.