Old rivals to meet in tasty early season encounter

Soccer: Mayo League

Back of the net: Dave Hoban scored for Westport United in their league opener last weekend.

Back of the net: Dave Hoban scored for Westport United in their league opener last weekend.

The second round of action in the Super League this weekend has thrown up one of the marquee fixtures of the season when Castlebar Celtic and Westport United meet in Celtic Park on Sunday afternoon. United opened their title defence last weekend with a 2-0 win at home to Glenhest Rovers, while Celtic spurned a 3-0 lead away to Iorras Aontaithe to finish up with just one point from their visit to Carne Nash. Celtic manager Ciaran Kelly will be hoping that come the end of the season that result won't be something to come back and bite them.

Celtic got off to a great start with Ioseph O'Reilly finding the back of the net 22 minutes in. They doubled their lead in first half injury time when Anthony Johnson chipped the ball over Gary Keane in the Iorras goal. The Celtic faithful would have been sure they had the points rapped up when Jamie Ivers made it 3-0 just after the turn around, but it was all about to fall apart for Kelly's men. Jamie Flannery got one back for Iorras with 22 minutes left and when Jason Boylan netted seven minutes from time it was game on. Deep into injury time Tom Ivan headed home a Brendan Nallen cross to grab a share of the spoils.

Westport United's title defence was given a stiff examination by league new boys Glenhest Rovers who held out until 11 minutes from time when David Hoban toed the ball over the line after Rovers goalkeeper Michael O'Malley dropped the ball after initially saving a header from the United striker. Four minutes from the end Westport made sure of the points when sub Adam Mulchrone fired low to the net to keep the home faithful happy.

The meeting of United and Celtic are always engrossing encounters and this Sunday's game promises to be no different. A win for Westport would see them pull five points clear of Celtic at this early stage of the season, while a win for Celtic would be a great boost in their aim to be in with a real shout of claiming the title come the autumn.

Ballina Town were in Connacht Cup action last weekend, where Michael McNicholas's side bowed out at the quarter-final stage losing 1-0 to Galway Bohs in Galway last Sunday, going down to an extra-time penalty from Dean Lydon which was given in controversial circumstances, along with Town also having two legitimate claims for spot kicks turned down by the match day referee. Ballina will open up their Mayo League season on Saturday afternoon when they travel to Quigley Park to take on a Ballyheane side who themselves got off to a winning start last weekend with a 2-0 win over Conn Rangers also at home. The 'Hane have always been a hard side to break down and once again last weekend the foundation of their win was built upon making sure things were kept tight at the back. Robbie Ehlert gave the 'Hane the lead just before the break and an Arek Tobiasz strike just after the hour mark saw them head towards the full time whistle with the points in the bank. Ballina Town will be keen to get a win under their belts to get a title challenge off to a good start, but it won't be easy on Saturday evening in Ballyheane.

Super League new boys Claremorris will also have their first game of the new season this weekend when they take on a Ballyglass side who had an impressive winning start last weekend seeing off Manulla 3-1 at home, despite going behind as early as the fifth minute. JP O'Gorman pulled his side level 11 minutes in, and two second half strikes from Liam Hughes who was only introduced on the hour mark saw local bragging rights and the three points go to the Candystripes. For Claremorris, Saturday's return to the top flight is something they will have been looking forward to over the winter months. But with Ballyglass up and running and Tom Connolly's men knowing they have what it takes to mix it with the big boys after impressing for long periods last year, before hitting a slump over the final few rounds of game, it'll be a very serious test for the Concannon Park outfit.

Manulla will be looking to make up for their loss last weekend when they host an Iorras Aointithe side who will be brimming with confidence after their three goal comeback last weekend, but with Tom Healy's men having home advantage in Carramore and hurting from last week's result it will be a tough examination for Martin McIntyre's outfit. The final game in the top division this weekend sees Conn Rangers host Glenhest Rovers in Mount Falcon. The north Mayo men staged a great escape of sorts last season after looking to be in serious trouble early on, after going down to Ballyheane last time out a win in this game is a must for them if they are going to avoid a relegation battle this time around.


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