Ballina and Swinford B move closer to league titles

Soccer: Masters League

Ballina Town stay six points clear at the top of Division 1 after a hard fought win over neighbours Straide & Foxford United while Swinford B remain the team to catch in Division 2 as the Masters League returned from its Christmas break last Wednesday night.

Ballina and S&F faced off in the night’s first game in what was one of the most entertaining games of the entire season. Goals flew in at both ends of the pitch, sometimes in spectacular fashion, as United looked to pull off a shock victory against the league leaders. The Moysiders held an early 3-1 lead before Ballina overturned that to lead 5-4 at the break. Late on it looked like both sides would share the spoils but late goals for Town secured an 8-6 victory. Aiden O’Hora, Brendan Giblin, a Mark Beattie double, an own goal, and a hat-trick for Duane Helly ensured the victory while Brendan Roache, Michael Costello, and two each for John Jordan and Brendan McHugh got the goals for United.

Fahy Rovers picked up a surprisingly straightforward 7-3 win over Castlebar Celtic in the night’s second kick-off as a flurry of early goals blitzed Celtic and left them with too big a mountain to climb as the game went on. David Burns, Guillaume Vaidie, Barry Rourke, Larry Joyce, and a hat-trick for Tom Gill saw Rovers pick up their fourth win of the season. An Ashley Stevenson double and a Brian Mannion goal were mere consolation for an outclassed Celtic.

Manulla kept the gap between themselves and Ballina at six points with a late 5-2 victory over Ballyhaunis in the final game. The east Mayo side held a 2-1 half-time lead thanks to goals from Mikal Krusna and Pat McGee, but Manulla came back into the game and took their chances in an evenly matched second period. Goals from James Cunningham, Dermot McNicholas, John Kelly, and two from Roger Clarke secured the win.

Conn Rangers continued their good form from before the Christmas break as they picked up a third win on the bounce with a 10-3 victory over Kiltimagh/Knock United. The north Mayo side were dominant throughout the game and United had no answer to their attacking prowess. Doubles for Stephen Sweeney, Trevor Warde, and Sean Carey added to a Liam McHale hat-trick, and an effort from Eanna McHale, James Carty, and a Kieran Jennings double with the goals for Kiltimagh/Knock.

Swinford B effectively secured the division 2 title, and promotion, as they kept a five point gap at the top of the table with just two games remaining following a routine 7-4 win over Manulla B. Manulla pushed Swinford B at times but could not take their chances when presented with them while the east Mayo side made no such mistakes. Jakub Gawalkiewicz, Tom Moriarty, Billy Murphy, and doubles for Paul Kenny and Patrick McDonnell secured the win. Tom Brett, John Flannery, and two for Keith Bourke were the scorers for Manulla.

Swinford A ensured the race for promotion continued for at least one more week with a big 14-2 win over Mulranny in the final game of the night. Hat-tricks from Paul Halligan and Eoin Gallagher were supplemented by a Gavin Groarke double, two for Brendan Fallon, and goals from Gearoid Brady, Kevin Crawley, Piotr Slabik, and Robert Walsh for the easy win. Martin Barrett hit both of Mulranny’s goals.

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