After what must seem like a never ending hiatus for both Ballina Town and Westport United, the final round of games in the Super League finally rolls around this Sunday, and in one of the most exciting title races in years it is all still up for grabs for both sides. After 17 games only a point separates both sides at the top of the table, with last year’s defending champions in the driving seat ahead of the weekend.
The pressure is all on Ballina Town as it is their title to lose. They face Swinford in Belleek Park knowing that if they win they are the champions for the second year in a row, draw or lose and Westport United are poised to regain the title they surrendered to Brendan Kenny’s men last season. Just to throw some more intrigue into the mix, Westport United manager Barry Kilgannon is a former Ballina Town player. Kilgannon has had a very good first year in charge of the Covies, winning 14 of his 17 league games so far, but in Westport success is measured by the number of trophies that they have on the sideboard at the end of the season.
Westport United must travel to Castlebar on Sunday to take on their age old rivals Castlebar Celtic. While Castlebar Celtic’s Super League side might not be the beast of old, thanks to their commitments in the League of Ireland A Championship, the Celtic faithful would still relish in being the side that stopped the Westport charge towards the title.
When the pressure came on in the last few rounds of games Ballina showed their worth by beating both Westport United in Belleek and coming out on the right side of a seven goal classic in Carnenash against third placed Iorras Aontaithe who were still in with a crack of winning the title right up to the penultimate round of games. They will have to do it this weekend without the services of a few players who are out of the country, while Westport will also have to get on with their business without the services of the influential David Horkan.
While the race at the top is going down to the wire, there is nothing else left to play for in the table with the relegation places all sorted out already. Snugboro United will prop up the table after next weekend, they will be joined in the Premier Division next year by Straide and Foxford United, Ballyheane and Fahy Rovers. The midtable safety zone will be occupied by Castlebar Celtic who did just enough to stay out of the bottom four, Swinford and Manulla in fourth place. The gulf in class between the top three and the rest is shown on the league table, Manulla will finish the season in fourth place on the table, they currently sit 16 points behind Ballina Town at the top of the table, but they are only 12 points outside of relegation going into the final round of games this weekend.