Ballina Town knew it was never going to be easy to win this year’s Super League crown, and if any complacency slipped into their minds, last weekend they were brought back to earth. Ballina saw their lead at the top of the table cut from three points to one with three games left in the league.
In Green Road last weekend, they twice led against Straide and Foxford United and twice they were hauled back by the home side. Michael Duffy opened the scoring when he got on the end of a Derek Tansey throw to head home. But the game was level again on the break when Paul Fitzpatrick netted from a free kick at the edge of the area. But Ballina were back in the lead early on when Brendan Lavelle was able to head the ball to the back of the net following a flick on by Dwayne Helly. The final goal of the game came from another header when John Jordan had time and space to apply a neat finish. With the pressure on and Ballina knowing they can’t afford to slip up again, Brendan Kenny will have been drilling into his side all week the need to keep hold of a lead when they get it.
This weekend Ballina have a chance to keep themselves in poll position when they face Castlebar Celtic. And while Celtic have been struggling this season they didn’t make it easy for Westport United who were close on the heels of Ballina last weekend. Twice Westport went behind to Celtic in the game through John Maughan goals, pulled level through Danny Scahill and Dave Horkan, but it wasn’t until the 90th minute when Brian Kennedy netted the winner through a header to leave them only a point behind Ballina in the table.
This weekend Westport will be hoping that Celtic do them a favour, but they have to face their own tough challenge. Ballyheane come into the game following a 3-1 win over Snugboro United, and while their form has been no more than their traditional patchy form, there is nothing the Quigley Park side like more than putting it up to Westport. Alan McHugh and Gerry Burke netted for them last weekend and with players like Peter Burke, Matthew Conroy and David Sheridan in their ranks they will give Westport a tough time on Sunday.
The other games this weekend sees bottom of the table Kilmore take on Manulla who are comfortable in the higher reaches of mid table and it will probably be another bridge to far for the north Mayo men. Third placed Iorras Aontaithe will entertain Snugboro United who are now without a manager since Johan Collins decided to step down last weekend and the Barony men should take full advantage of having a home tie. The final game is the clash of Fahy Rovers and Straide and Foxford United, while the visitors are in second last place, they showed last weekend with their draw with Ballina they have quality and will fancy their chances of taking the points off the hard working Fahy side.