Mayo ready for toughest challenge to date

Hard tackle: Mayo's Tom O'Connor put's in a hard tackle in last years Oscar Traynor cup, O'Connor will need to be on top form this weekend for Mayo if their to make it through.

Hard tackle: Mayo's Tom O'Connor put's in a hard tackle in last years Oscar Traynor cup, O'Connor will need to be on top form this weekend for Mayo if their to make it through.

This Sunday afternoon sees the Mayo League take to the field in the semi final of the Oscar Traynor Cup in the lion’s den of the AUL complex in Clonshaugh, Dublin. Their opposition, the much fancied Athletic Union League, are the favourites to lift the cup this year. Mayo manager Declan Kilkelly was confident going in to the game when he spoke to the Mayo Advertiser earlier this week. “We have a great squad here and if we play to the maximum of our potential, we have a great chance of making the final.” The Mayo side had a warm up game last week with a charity match against Iorras Aontaithe in Carne, which Mayo won 3-2, which Kilkelly believed to be a “great bonding session for the lads and preparation for this weekends challenge.”

Ballina town’s Eugene Gorman is the manager’s only injury worry for Sunday, Gorman is carrying an injury and doesn’t look like he will recover in time for final four clash. The squad trained this week already and will be put through their paces again by the Mayo and Castlebar Celtic manager the day before the contest.

Kilkelly recognises that their opponents are a tough side who have plenty of experience and will present a huge challenge to his side. “AUL have a very good squad and are the red hot favourites to win on Sunday and to win the cup outright.” The AUL knocked out last year’s winners and holders, Desmond League from Limerick, in a 2-0 victory in the quarter-finals last month, which shows their credentials. Two players back in the Mayo fold following injuries are Westport United striker Dessie O’Malley whose goal scoring threat will be vital to the side’s chances and Castlebar Celtic midfielder Andy Neary which is a welcome and timely boost to the squad. Kilkelly is likely to juggle the squad that started the quarter-final to accommodate the players returning from injury. So it all boils down to Sunday and to the performances of the Mayo team in Dublin. Kilkelly stated “its in our hands on Sunday, we have a great chance, but if we don’t perform on the day we won’t win.”

Celtic to enter the league of Ireland

Castlebar Celtic have made the landmark decision of joining the League of Ireland A League for the 2009 season. The Castlebar side were invited to join the league a number of weeks ago and the club committee decided it was now time for them to accept the invitation. The club joined the league’s u20 league two years ago and had a moderately successful spell in the division only to be excluded from the league last season, because the club did not have a team entering the A league which was then in its first year. This exclusion caused a lot of anger in the club and led to a number of key young players moving to other clubs in the province where they were offered League of Ireland football. The club hopes that this decision to enter the A league will entice a number of these players back to the side. Current manager Declan Kilkelly along with his assistant Harry Jennings will take charge of the side, while the club’s second team will take the vacant place in the Super League, the top level of junior soccer in Mayo.


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