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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.
By the end of this weekend, Westport United’s lead at the top of the Super League table will probably be down to seven points as the Covies have no game this weekend. Neither Westport or second placed Ballina Town are in action this weekend and Castlebar Celtic will be able to leapfrog Westport into second place. But the Covies are still red hot favourites to take the title, with the half-way point in their league campaign reached they will have a seven-point lead in their back pocket at the very least by the time they next play in the league. Last weekend Westport were 2-0 winners over Iorras Aontaithe thanks to goals from David Hoban and JP O’Gorman in either half, while Balllina saw off Fahy Rovers by the same score and Castlebar Celtic were made to work hard to come away from Foxford with the points. Castlebar Celtic needed a Ger O’Boyle goal late on to go home with a 3-2 win against the side who are rooted to the bottom of the Super League. Stephen Moyles put Straide and Foxford United in front early on, James Minogue pulled the game level before the break with Stevie Ryan putting Celtic in the lead just after the break. Paul Fitzpatrick levelled the game not long after and it was a close range finish from O’Boyle late on that sealed the win for Celtic.
In the coming weeks sports teams from all over the county will be pulling on their boots once more in a bid for pre-season fitness. But what does it really mean to be fit and how can coaches obtain this? Mark Quinn of Blue Star Fitness will address these questions and many more in a upcoming workshop: Developing Pre-Season Fitness.
Iorras Aontaithe were able to keep ahead of the back in the Elverys Sports Super League last weekend, but they can’t afford to slip up as the season enters it’s final third. Last time out they came to Celtic Park and went away with the points thanks to a 2-0 win. Brendan Nallen and Garrett O’Malley were the men to hit the back of the net for Iorras. This weekend there on the road again when they head to Swinford to take on a side that are sitting comfortably in mid table at the moment. Last weekend however didn’t go to plan for the east Mayo men with Westport United putting them to the sword in the sports park. The home side knocked four past the Swinford goal keeper Neil McNicholas. Mark McNally opened the scoring in the first half, with second half strikes from David Horkan, Danny Scahill and Vinny O’Malley rapping up the game for Barry Kilgallon’s men. Westport now sit in third place in the table two points behind Iorras but they have a game in hand on the north Mayo men and last year’s champions Ballina Town where are currently in second spot one point ahead of Westport.
Ballina Town are sitting pretty top of the Super League with four wins out of four, but chasing their tales in second place in the league are Iorras Aontaithe who have won their opening three fixtures. But this weekend’s challenge for Iorras will tell them far more about themselves than their three fixtures so far according to their manager Michael S Togher. “Yeah we’ve done well so far in the league, but going to Manulla will be a big test for us and really tell us a lot about ourselves for the season ahead.”
At the start of every season winning the title is the ultimate goal for most sides, but in this years Elvery’s Sports Super League avoiding the drop is a big a concern for a lot of teams. This year will see four sides dropping out of the top division before it becomes a more compact and competitive eight team league for the 2011 campaign. Last year only one team (Kilmore) dropped out of the top flight with Swinford replacing them this season, after Westport United B won the Premier Division title but were not allowed to come up. But this year if you finish between 10th and seventh place in the league and you are dropping through the trap door.
They may have only lost their footing from the top of the table momentarily and only be there on goal difference, but Westport United will be hurting after Ballyheane came to the Sports Park and went home with three points, thanks to Alan McHugh’s goal 11 minutes before time. While Ballyheane in their history are no strangers to taking big scalps, going to Westport having only won two games beforehand, it looked like a major job for the men from Quigley Park, but their dogged determination and closing down of Westport in every area on the park ensured that they didn’t let their late lead slip.
There is no let up from the action in Mayo soccer circles this weekend with the Connacht Cup taking over where the FAI Junior cup left off last weekend. Even with the terrible weather conditions which saw a lot of sporting events called off around the country, only two games fell foul to the rain in Mayo, the ties between Castlebar Celtic and Straide and Foxford United and the Ballina Town and Kiltimagh/Knock United game.