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Ballina Town will host East Wall Bessborough in the sixth round of the FAI Junior Cup in Belleek on Sunday afternoon. The Dublin based visitors are currently sitting in seventh spot in the 12 strong AUL Premier A table, 10 points off table toppers Kilbarrack United. The league leaders saw off East Wall Bessborough 3-1 last Sunday and Ballina will be hoping they can grab a similar win on Sunday.
The first weekend of the new year is coming up and for the 2013 Super League champions, Ballina Town there is no rest in store for them as they make the long trip to Kerry to take on Castleisland Celtic in the fifth round of the FAI Junior Cup final. Ballina Town manager Fergal Forde has had to deal with a number of key players bowing out of action during 2013, but it has not dimmed his ambitions for his side. “We’ve also had to deal with a couple of retirements since the end of the Mayo league season with Philip Devers retiring and Keith Duffy moving on, also have goalkeeper Emmett Payton gone now too. We’ve a good squad, but will have a very young bench going down there, but they are all good lads coming up from the under 18s and they are the future of the club.”
The 2013 Elvery’s Sports Super League title headed to north Mayo after a titanic battle that stretched right until the very last day of the season. Ballina Town wrapped it up with a 1-0 win away to Castlebar Celtic, while Ballyheane were held to a 2-2 draw by Westport United at home. Although the title deservedly went to Ballina Town, Ballyheane had a impressive return to the Super League finishing in second place and going the whole 14 game season unbeaten in the league, finishing up with seven wins and seven draws.
Next Friday night (December 6) in the Welcome Inn Hotel the Mayo League will honour the best performers of the year at its annual awards night. The league has selected teams of the year across all five divisions of the Mayo League, from the Super League to League Two, and team of the year for the Masters competitions it runs. It will also announce on the night the player of the year in each division.
In many ways it is the classic cup final between the historic big two in Mayo soccer this Sunday when Castlebar Celtic and Westport United meet in Milebush. For a team that dominated at home and in the province last year, this year has been successful on the field for the Covies. A so-so start to the league saw them chasing from early on, but they found their form as the season went on and had a major say in the destination of the title in the closing stages, beating eventual champions Ballina Town on the penultimate day ensuring the destination of the Super League crown went down to the last day of the season. They then held second placed Ballyheane to a 2-2 draw at the end of October killing off their hopes of sneaking the title on the last day of the league. They eventually finished six points behind Ballina in the league, and know if they had been able to turn any of the four draws they were held to in the league season the day would have been right in the mix to retain the title.
There will be plenty of drama in the Elverys Super League on Sunday when the final round of games kick-off, with both Ballina Town and Ballyheane having a chance to claim the title. Last Sunday Fergal Forde’s men from north Mayo had a chance to claim the title when they played their catch up game against Westport United, but last years champions were not in any mood to just let Ballina Town take their crown and ran out 3-0 winners against them in the Sportspark.
Ballina Town will hope they can avoid the Super League title race going right down to the wire, when they play their game in hand on title rivals Ballyheane on Sunday. Fergal Forde’s men sit one point in front of Ballyheane in the table at the moment with 28 points from 12 games, while Ballyheane have 27 points from their 13 games so far.
Defending Super League champions Westport United’s attempts to keep in touch at the top of the Super League table with Ballina Town suffered a serious blow last weekend, when Castlebar Celtic turned them over in Celtic Park. The Hoops’ 3-2 win combined with Ballina Town’s 8-1 win over Manulla in the last round of games, has left Ballina Town seven points clear of both Westport United and Ballyheane with six rounds left to go.
Ballina Town and Ballyheane will go toe to toe in Milebush Park on Sunday afternoon with the FCS Cup up for grabs. Sunday’s final will be a meeting between the two sides placed in first and second place in the Super League table as the home stretch approaches in the league. Ballina Town, who had a weekend off from league action last weekend, currently sit four points clear of Ballyheane and Westport United who are locked together on 18 points each.
The action in the divisions of the Mayo league take a break this weekend as the action in the cup and shield competitions takes over at the quarter-final stage. In the Connacht Gold Cup, there are four top division sides left in the draw with two from the Premier A and one from each of the Premier B and League One. Westport United who are second in the Super League and were held to a 1-1 draw away to Iorras Aontaithe last weekend will be at home to League One side Ballyhaunis Town who are themselves second in their division. United are the defending cup champions having routed Castlebar Celtic B 6-0 in the final last year in Milebush and will be hot favourites to book a semi-final spot on Saturday evening. The only unbeaten team in the league across all five divisions Ballyheane will be taking on Premier B opposition ins the shape of Ballyglass. The central Mayo side are currently riding on a high after picking up the Tuohy Cup last Sunday in Milebush thanks to a 4-0 win over Bangor Hibs and are also currently top of the extremely tight Premier B division, where they are level on points with Swinford and Westport United B at the top of the table. Ballyheane come into the game on the back of a 3-0 derby win against Castlebar Celtic last weekend and will be full of confidence themselves. Claremorris who find themselves rock bottom of the Super League will make the trip Castlebar to take on Fahy Rovers for a place in the final four. Claremorris have only one win under their belt in the league this season and last weekend were hammered 6-1 by league leaders Ballina Town at home. Fahy are two points clear at the top of Premier A and this game has all the hallmarks of a divisional upset, unless Claremorris can dig out a win to breathe some life back into a season that looks like tumbling towards relegation. The final quarter final pits a Castlebar Celtic side, who are in turmoil and now managerless after Declan Kilkelly resigned following Celtic’s 3-0 defeat at home to Ballyheane last weekend, against Charlestown Athletic. The east Mayo men who are currently sitting in third place in the Premier A will be hoping to use home advantage to claim the scalp of the Hoops.