League cup final promises exciting encounter

Another chapter in the glorious rivalry that exists between current Super League champions Ballina Town and pretenders to the crown Westport Utd will be crafted on Sunday in Milebush Park. The FCS Cup presents Ballina Town with an opportunity to resurrect their campaign that has been patchy of late. However they will have their work cut out against the Covies, but they have the necessary tools to get the job done.

In December 1961, Ballina Town was founded in the bustling Geraghty’s public house and they have not looked back since. In fact they were the first Mayo club to set sail into unknown territory in 1990 when they entered the FAI Senior Cup. It was a baptism of fire against Shelbourne FC, as they crumbled to a 4-0 defeat. The league double in 2009 and 2010 sparked their credentials as serious operators. The fact that they banked the Westaro Cup double copperfastened their dominance. After hitting the high notes they came tumbling back to earth, but last year they got back up on the horse to rekindle the glory years. Iorras Aontaithe was the first stumbling block in round one, but they ran away convincing 5-1 winners to set up a last four clash at home with Super League new boys Straide & Foxford Utd. They did not hold back against their east Mayo rivals, winning 2-0 and booking their final ticket against Westport Utd. They face a huge challenge on Sunday according to Eamon Kenny, manager of Ballina Town. “It’s going to be a big challenge. They’ve remained unbeaten in the league throughout the season,” he said, although they are coming into the final with a rich vein of form “We’re coming into the final with a small bit of form. We’ve back-to-back wins in the league. On our day we know we can put it up to Westport.”

The Covies have been consistent this season under the deadly duo of Kieran Mulchrone and James Fahy. However, they hit a minor blip against Straide & Foxford Utd in the league, when Michael Guilfoyle grabbed a late equaliser. Last year’s Connacht Gold Cup champions set out their stall early on and have kept to their word since. A string of marvellous performances has them in fine fettle heading into battle with Ballina Town.

Their rich history started back in 1911 and in fact they are the oldest club in Mayo. They have continued to make great strides in the last couple of years. They created history in Buckley Park, Kilkenny, in 2005 winning the FAI Junior Cup after beating Waterford Crystal 2-0, with Dessie O’Malley and David Cameron chipping in with vital goals. A first round 2-1 win over Charlestown Athletic, with Danny Scahill and Dave Hoban grabbing the goals, set them up nicely for a tilt at Castlebar Celtic. In a tense contest the Covies carved out a 3-2 win, with the goals coming from the dangerous Dave Hoban (2 ) and David Cameron which gifted them a last four clash with last year’s winners Ballyheane. A comprehensive 4-0 win transpired, with Dave Hoban (2 ) and JP O’Gorman (2 ) on fire, and now Ballina Town are their next target in what has been an amazing year thus far. Joint-manager Kieran Mulchrone will not be taking Ballina lightly on Sunday. “Any cup game against Ballina is a big game. In a cup final day anything can happen. It all depends who turns up on the day,” he said. “They have shown no signs of easing up as we head into the defining period of the season.”

Verdict: Westport Utd.

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