St. Peters remain on course to retain league title


John Dingle

St Peters remain on course to retain their Roscommon League Senior Division title after seeing off the challenge of old rivals Ballinasloe Town at the Curragh Grounds last Saturday night.

With Castlerea Celtic also winning, it is now a two-horse race with the final game of the season between the teams set to be the exciting decider.

The Saints drew a blank in the opening half as Ballinasloe stood firm against the away pressure. The deadlock was broken early in the second half through Mark Sherlock with strike partner Mark Hehir sealing the away win late on.

There were few clear-cut chances in the first half as most of the pressure came from Padraig Moran’s men. Neither side really settled in the breezy conditions as high balls flew wide and passes went astray. Hehir had the first chance when firing wide with Aidan Dooney responding for the hosts, drawing the save from Aidan Fallon.

The Saints forced nine corner kicks in the half but to no avail. Daragh Concannon came close to scoring against his former club as goalkeeper Padraigh Maloney also denied Sherlock. The keeper made another excellent save after 34 minutes. Concannon delivered a free kick into the penalty area where Sherlock rose to head home but Maloney tipped the attempt over the bar.

The game was delicately balanced but the crucial opening goal came early in the second half. Conor Duignan, from the left, sent in a cross to the far post. Saints top scorer Sherlock was on hand to fire the ball back across the goal and into the far corner of the net.

Ballinasloe almost levelled matters moments later through substitute Jordan Carr following a scramble in the Peters goalmouth. Both Carr and Callum McKelvey had shots blocked midway through the half as the hosts went in search of an equaliser.

The pressure was not maintained though and the Saints took advantage of some slack marking to double their lead with 77 minutes played. An attack down the right saw Sherlock gain possession, his cross into the danger zone picking out the unmarked Hehir who tapped home from close range. It was a bad goal to concede and there was now no way back for a deflated Ballinasloe outfit.

Peters easily held out as there was no response from the home team during the closing stages. In spite of losing Concannon to a second yellow card late on, the Saints were not to be denied the double over the Galway outfit. Four additional minutes added somewhat to the tension but a consolation score could not be achieved by Ballinasloe in their final home league game of the season.

Castlerea Celtic still remain two points clear of the Saints with just two games remaining but Moran’s men know they have the destiny of the title in their own hands. Presuming both win their penultimate games, it is then all set for a royal battle with the Saints enjoying home advantage in the winner take all encounter.


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