This weekend 42 of the 43 teams taking part in the Mayo Football league will kick off their campaign for the new season. The odd team out being Ballyvary Blue Bombers who are part of the seven team League One this season. The big change this year in the league format is the return to 10 team divisions in the top three levels this season after a couple of years with eight team divisions.
The expansion of the top divisions has seen four teams move up from the Premier A to the Super League this year to fill out the league. Straide and Foxford United, Fahy Rovers, Moy Villa and Charlestown Athletic have joined the big boys this term. The defending champions Ballina Town will open their season with a short trip to Moy Villa on Saturday night. This year the Mayo League has spread the games out over both Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons. Also getting to grips with each other tomorrow night are the newly crowned Connacht Junior Shield champions, Straide and Foxford United (they beat other Super League newcomers Charlestown Athletic 3-0 last Sunday in the final in Milebush ), and Manulla in Foxford. Fahy Rovers will be the first team to make the long trek to Carnenash on Saturday night when they face Iorras Aontaithe, all three games are down for 6pm kick-offs.
On Sunday afternoon there can be no doubt what is the big game of the weekend, when Castlebar Celtic make the 11 mile trip to the coast to take on Westport United in the Sportspark. The two big names in soccer in the county met last week in the Connacht Junior Cup semi-final with Celtic pulling off a mild surprise by seeing off Westport 2-1 thanks to two early goals, with both Daire Duffy and Ronan O’Boyle finding the back of the net inside the opening 12 minutes in Celtic Park. Stevie Gavin’s side will make the journey on Sunday, but know well that Kieran Mulchrone and James Fahy’s charges will be raring to go on Sunday and avenge that cup loss. The final game in the Super League round one is the meeting of Ballyheane and Charlestown Athletic in Quigley Park. The Hane went through the whole of last season’s league unbeaten thanks to their rock solid defence which conceded only 12 goals over the whole campaign. But it was not enough to win the title they finished behind Ballina Town after the race went down to a dramatic final day.
With the Super League being expanded back to 10 teams, it promises to be another cracking season of football in Mayo, the eight team divisions saw a lot of teams have their title ambitions blown to bits after a couple of early season knocks, with four extra games this year it should keep the division more competitive over the whole season.