Ballinasloe Town to celebrate milestone club anniversary

With the participating clubs agreeing to complete the season, the destiny of the Premier Division title of the Roscommon and District League can finally be decided this year.

Holders St. Peters must beat Castlerea Celtic to retain their title in an exciting finale to the 2019/20 campaign. For supporters of Ballinasloe Town though the league season will bring little joy as the Galway team were never in serious contention for honours. Peter Keighery’s charges are set to finish well adrift in third position as the former kingpins of the Roscommon League look to get back to their former glory.

Ballinasloe have a proud history and will celebrate 50 years in existence next year. Having completed the purchase of the Curragh Grounds in the mid-1980s, the club have gone from strength to strength.

An amalgamation with Dubarry Apache FC back then proved mutually beneficial and many of the current personnel were involved with the factory club. The Roscommon League introduced a new Premier Division at the start of the 1980s with Ballinasloe worthy entrants. Aside from a brief spell in the Connacht Senior League, Town’s home has been in the Roscommon League. The recent completion of a new dressing room complex keeps the clubs home base to the forefront of the game in Connacht.

The new decade of the 1990s was somewhat of a watershed for the club as they reached the final of the Connacht Challenge Cup only narrowly losing to Castlebar. The end of the decade saw the club back in the Roscommon League represented by two teams at the start. A first Challenge Cup win followed in 2001 with the first of a number of doubles being completed in 2005.

For the next 10 years, Ballinasloe were to enjoy many big days out as Leagues and Cups were won on a regular basis. For good measure, the Connacht Cup was lifted on four occasions as the team showed their worth on a broader stage. However all good things must come to an end and, as key players retired, the senior team has been in the doldrums in recent seasons.

The addition of Athlone club, St. Peters, to the league has added an extra spice to the top flight with the Saints now taking over as the top club. That is not to say that Ballinasloe have been totally swept aside with the team still proving competitive. The Divisional Cup was lifted in 2019 and a place in the final of the Challenge Cup was only halted at the hands of St. Peters in the semi-final. An away win over Castlerea Celtic earned second place in the league for the third season running. The home team had opened the scoring but Ballinasloe fought back to win with goals from Darren Kelly and Mark Duffy.

The 2019/20 season again appeared like a straight fight for honours between the previous season’s top three as Ballinasloe looked to go one better and prise the title back to the Curragh Grounds. It proved to be a disappointing league campaign though as Keighery’s men slipped away from making a challenge for honours.

The defence was still one of the meanest in the Division but a lack of fire power proved costly. An average of just over a goal a game was never likely to be good enough especially when rivals Castlerea and St. Peters were both racking up an average of three per game.

The record at home also let down the team with two defeats scuppering any chances. There was better news though in the knockout competitions with an extended run in the prestigious FAI Junior Cup. Victory over Waterford outfit Villa FC away from home looked to have propelled the team into the last 32.

However, hopes of a chance at glory on the national stage were dashed in cruel fashion as the Munster outfit were reinstated to the competition following an objection.

 

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