Big battle in Erris will swing direction of the title

The penultimate round of games in this year’s Super League sees all roads leading to Erris on Sunday afternoon. Defending champions Ballina Town went back to the top of the Super League last weekend thanks to a late winner from John Mountney against Westport United. Brendan Kenny’s men are one point clear of both Iorras Aontaithe and Westport United but have to make the trip to Erris on Sunday in a must win game for both sides. A draw would give Westport United, who are away to Ballyheane, a chance to move back into first place with only one game left.

Iorras manager Michael S Togher is looking forward to the clash and trying to knock the champions off their throne. “A win on Sunday could put us in pole position going into the last game of the season, but you’ve also got to think that Westport will beat Ballyheane in their game which will leave us both on 43 pointd going into that final game.” The race for the title being so tight does not surprise Togher, who is in his first year in charge of the side. “All of the three teams are very well matched at the top of the league, we all seem to be that bit ahead of the rest of the sides so any slip up could be crucial, we’ve only lost two games out 16 so far, the same as Westport, while Ballina have only lost one. That shows the level of consistency that all the sides have shown this year. We played Ballina earlier in the season and we lost 4-1 after leading 1-0 at half time, that was a real education for me as a manager and has helped me over the rest of the season to get us where we are now.” Togher though is keen to praise the effort his players have put in this season in sometimes trying circumstances. “It’s not a manager who gets into a position like this, it’s the players and everyone of them has put in a huge amount of effort this year to put us in contention for the title. We’ve had to use 28 players over the course of the league and cup so far, we haven’t been able to put out the same side two games in a row. But that’s what you have to deal with when you are a rural club, lads have to go to work when they can and aren’t always available and that work has to take priority in these times. But everyone who has played this year has given nothing less than 100 per cent when called on.”

Togher’s opposite number Brendan Kenny has had an up and down week, the joy of overcoming Westport and moving back into pole position in the league was tempered on Tuesday night by a hammering handed out to them by Salthill Devon in the Connacht senior cup final. “It’s been a strange week, but there is nothing you can do about that, it’s the way the fixtures fell. Obviously I would have preferred not to have to play a big game Sunday, then a cup final on Tuesday and another big game the following Sunday. The lads have to get up every morning and go to work in the middle of all this and are then expected to be fresh ready for action, it’s not going to happen.” While his side were well beaten by Salthill Devon on Tuesday night Kenny sees the game as a learning experience for his players. “They are a quality side, you could see that straight away, we were competing with a side who are two levels above us and it showed. You can talk about A league sides, but they were a full League of Ireland side and you could see it. Our lads found it hard against them and they will use it to learn from for the future, the scoreline didn’t reflect the game fully, they were clinical when the chances arrived, while we didn’t take them. But now our concentration is back on the league on Sunday, our aim at the start of the year was to retain the league which is a lot harder than just winning it. Because when you are champions everyone wants to have a crack at you.”

 

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