Early season clashes could have implications down the line

Soccer: Mayo League Super League

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A full round of fixtures in the Mayo League Super League is pencilled in for this weekend, with two games down for tomorrow night and three more on Sunday afternoon. Both Ballyglass and Achill will be contesting their third games in the division, with six others their second game, while both Claremorris and defending champions Westport United will get their league boots dirty for the first time this season.

Last weekend saw Ballyglass pick up their first points of the season with a 3-2 win over Achill Rovers in Michael Keaveney Park, thanks to goals from Matt Hamilton, JP O'Gorman, and the winner from Darren Murray. The home side had gone into an early 2-0 lead, but were pegged back by goals from Cyril Guedje and Johnny Kiernan before the half time break. That was Achill's second loss in as many league games since their return to the top flight, but was a much better performance than their opening day 5-1 loss to Ballyheane and will give them plenty to build on over the coming weeks.

This weekend they will host Glenhest Rovers on Sunday afternoon in their island home, the visitors pulled off the surprise of the weekend in round one when they saw off last year's league runners up Ballina Town 3-2. George Heneghan's men had a comfortable seventh place finish in the table last season, and they are looking to make progress on that this season, and they could nit have got off to a better start with goals from David Walsh, Paddy Mulchrone, and Adrian Leonard getting them the win. A win for Rovers would set them up nicely in the early stages of the season, while Achill will be looking to get some points on the board as soon as possible or it could be a long hard season for the islanders.

Ballyglass will follow last weekend's win with a local derby against Manulla in Carramore, the hosts got their season off to a winning start with another derby win over Castlebar Celtic on day one, seeing off the Hoops' 3-1 at home after going 1-0 down early doors, but goals from Enda McGahon, Chris Maughan, and Anthony Elding saw Connie Morrisey's men pick up the win. The meeting of these sides tomorrow evening should be an engrossing encounter between two fairly evenly matched sides.

The other Saturday evening game sees the Ballyheane look to keep up their impressive start to the season when they host a Claremorris side who are getting their first taste of league action this season. Ballyheane's 5-1 demolition of Achill Rovers was an impressive start to the season for a new look Ballyheane team, with Paddy Burke leading the line upfront and bagging two goals, along with efforts from Sean Kilcoyne, Jack Tuffy, and Ashley Jensen in their opening day win. Mark Peters' Claremorris side will be looking to get their season up and running this weekend, after finishing a very respectable sixth last season the south Mayo men will be keen to try to push on this season.

The champions Westport United will get their title defence up and running on Sunday when they face Straide and Foxford United at high-noon at home. The visitors who have come back up to the top flight after a year in the Premier Division already have a win under their belts, thanks to a 4-2 win over Ballyglass in round one, with their deadly attacker Paul Fitzpatrick finding the back of the net twice, along with goals from Kevin Langdon and John Durkan. The tangerine clad outfit will face another tough test when they travel to the champions' home patch. Westport United do not often let league points slip at home, but it could be a chance for the division's new boys to see if John Brennan's side have any early season cobwebs and take advantage.

You would be loathe to say that a game is a must win at this early stage of the season, but the last few seasons have shown there is very little room for any side to drop points if they are going to try to lift the title come the autumn, and the meeting of two sides who have designs on becoming champions and already have losses in their win-loss columns, could be vital to their title chances later in the season. So a win is vital for both Castlebar Celtic and Ballina Town on Sunday when they meet in north Mayo. Celtic lost out to Manulla in round one two weeks ago and were dumped out of the Connacht Cup at the third round stage by Loughrea Rams last Sunday afternoon. Ballina Town were involved in the surprise result of round one going down 3-2 at home to Glenhest Rovers, and they need to get back to winning ways very soon if they are going to put in a serious title push over the months ahead.


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