Manulla and Ballina to meet in Westaro decider as cup competitions retain centre stage

Soccer: Mayo League

Manulla and Ballina Town will meet in this year’s Westaro Cup final after wins over Straide & Foxford United and Ballyglass last weekend.

The Super League leaders were most impressive in seeing off Ballyglass 5-0 in the first of three consecutive meetings between the clubs.

The north Mayo club put the previous week’s first defeat of the season at the hands of Claremorris to bed with an emphatic victory. New signing Dylan Edwards continued his great goalscoring start in Belleek as he hit a hat-trick with the other goals coming from Luke Honan and Benny Lavelle.

After scoring 31 goals for Boyle Celtic last season Edwards has already proven to be a shrewd signing by Ballina manager Mick Duffy as the business end of the season begins.

Manulla will meet Ballina in the final, their third decider in a row, after coming from behind to defeat Straide & Foxford United in Green Road. The cup specialists found themselves 1-0 down on the half hour mark thanks to a Johnny Cocozza goal but had the better of the exchanges from there on to run out 3-1 winners.

Enda McGahon had Manulla level just two minutes after Cocozza’s goal, and in the second-half Gerry Canavan and Gary McHale struck twice in a minute to put the tie beyond the home side and set up next month’s mouthwatering final clash.

The Westaro Cup took centre stage but there was one Super League clash down for decision with Castlebar Celtic and Westport United meeting in Celtic Park. The home side kept their long running unbeaten home record intact and snapped a four game losing streak with a 1-1 draw.

Westport had the chance to cut Ballina Town’s lead at the top of the table to six points and looked on course to do so after they took the lead on 28 minutes as Darren Browne headed home a corner as he found himself unmarked 10 yards out. Celtic were back on level terms just after the hour mark, when Ger O’Boyle headed home a left wing cross to leave Gary Cunningham with no chance in the Westport goal.

In the Premier Division, Snugboro United took a massive step towards promotion to the Super League with a 2-0 win over Glenhest Rovers which leaves them five points clear at the top. Ballyhaunis Town and Swinford are in joint second place after both recorded comfortable wins.

Cup takes centre stage again this weekend with the quarterfinals of the Connacht Gold Super Cup down for decision. Two Premier Divisions sides, Glenhest Rovers and Westport United B, will look to take scalps and reach the last four against Castlebar Celtic and Claremorris respectively.

Celtic have not been beaten at home for a long time and they host Glenhest on Saturday evening. With their recent run of four straight defeats arrested by last weekend’s draw with fierce rivals Westport the home side will be expected to regain some of their early season form and account for their neighbours out the Newport Road.

Also on Saturday night Kiltimagh/Knock United host Westport United. These sides have already clashed twice this season, most recently just two weeks ago in the Super League, and the home side have yet to score against their more vaunted opponents. However they have not been far off a Westport side who are not as impressive this season as years gone by. With Liam Groarke finding much success in front of goal this season the east Mayo side will feel they have a chance, but not many would back them against a Westport United side who only have the Super Cup left to play for this season.

On Sunday Ballina town will look to keep their treble hopes alive when they host Ballyglass. A 5-0 win last Sunday for the home side is an ominous sign for Tom Connolly’s charges, but Mick Duffy is expected to ring some changes to his team in order to get game time throughout his squad, so expect Sunday’s encounter to be a tighter affair.

Finally, Claremorris host Westport United ‘B’ on Sunday afternoon at Concannon Park. The south Mayo men have already accounted for Westport’s Super League team this season and the challenge posed by the Premier Division’s bottom side should not trouble them too much. Cup games can bring shocks, however, so Claremorris will no doubt be forewarned by Westport’s extra-time victory over Ballyheane in the last round.

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