New season, new divisions, new champions?

Soccer

Defending champions: Ballina Town who claimed the Charity Shield last weekend, will kick off the Super League season this Sunday at home to Westport United. Photo: Michael Donnelly.

Defending champions: Ballina Town who claimed the Charity Shield last weekend, will kick off the Super League season this Sunday at home to Westport United. Photo: Michael Donnelly.

It’s all about to kick off across the soccer pitches of the county for another long and winding season. On Saturday evening the action will kick off in the Premier A, Premier B, League One and League Two of the Mayo League at 6pm. On Sunday the big boys will get to grips with each other in the Super League along with the basement boys in League 3. This year the action in Mayo is spread across six different divisions with eight sides in each of the top five divisions and ten in the bottom tier. The league will be operating a two-up and two-down system of promotion and relegation across all divisions and come September 4 it should all be over for all the sides in the county. With only 14 games to be played in any of the top five divisions, a couple of losses could rule any side out of contention early doors and leave the battling it out at the bottom of the table.

On Sunday afternoon at 2.30pm, the defending champions Ballina Town will host Westport United who are entering their 100th year and looking to wrestle the title back from the two in a row champions and cement their place as the kings of soccer in the county. Both sides are going into the campaign without the managers who brought them to the conclusion of the previous season. With Brendan Kenny stepping down after leading the champions to the last two league wins to be replaced by Alan Gough, who was in charge of Swinford last season, and Barry Kilgannon stepping aside at United after just one season in charge. Both sides will be in the reckoning come the end of the season for the title, but there is one returning force who will have a major say in the destination of the title. After two years in the League of Ireland A League, Castlebar Celtic are dropping back to concentrate on junior football and Declan Kilkelly’s men are sure to have a major say on where the title rests for the winter. Celtic will open their account for the season at home against Manulla who themselves will be looking to get a good start to ensure that they get into the title hunt early and don’t get stuck in mid-table obscurity. Swinford will have to get used to life without Gough quickly and they will travel to Ballinrobe Town on Sunday to take on one of the promoted sides from last year. The final game will see the other new boys Claremorris take on Iorras Aontaithe in Concannon Park. While Claremorris along with Ballinrobe Town will be the favourites to occupy the last two spots in the division when all is said and done at the end of the season, they could put a dent in Iorras’s title charge early on come Sunday.

The Premier A division has a strange look to it this season with four of the teams from last year’s Super League now taking up half of the spots in the league. Snugboro United, Ballyheane, Fahy Rovers and Straide and Foxford United are all going to have to get used to life out of the Super League fast if they want to make it back up. In Quigley Park on Saturday evening, two of those sides will go head to head early doors. Straide and Foxford United will make head to Ballyheane to try strike and early advantage in the race for the title. Snugboro United will have tricky opening round game away to Clew Bay United. The other two games sees newly promoted Conn Rangers host a Westport United B side who should prove to be as tough to beat as any of the four sides who came down from the Super League, the final game in the division pits Fahy Rovers against Killala.

 

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