Big guns chase silverware
ANOTHER chapter in the intense rivalry between current Super League champions Ballina Town and pretenders to the crown Westport United will be crafted on Sunday at Milebush Park, Castlebar (3pm).
The FCS Cup presents Ballina Town with an opportunity to resurrect a campaign that has been patchy of late. However, they will have their work cut out against the Covies.
In December 1961, Ballina Town was founded in Geraghty’s public house and they haven’t looked back since. In fact, they were the first Mayo club to set sail into unknown territory in 1990 when they entered the FAI Senior Cup, losing 4-0 to Shelbourne.
More recently, back-to-back league titles in 2009 and 2010 sparked their credentials as serious operators, and they got back up on the horse in 2013 to rekindle the glory years.
They were runaway 5-1 winners over Iorras Aontaithe in round one of this year’s FCS Cup, following up with a 2-0 victory over Straide and Foxford United.
“It’s going to be a big challenge,” said Ballina manager Eamon Kenny. “Westport have remained unbeaten in the league throughout the season. We’re coming into the final with a small bit of form. We’ve had back-to-back wins in the league. On our day, we know we can put it up to Westport.”
The Covies have been consistency personified this season under the deadly duo of Kieran Mulchrone and James Fahy. Their only points dropped in the league came were at home to Straide and Foxford United, when Michael Guilfoyle grabbed a late equaliser.
Last year’s Connacht Gold Cup champions set out their stall early on, and a string of marvellous performances has them in fine fettle.
Their rich history started back in 1911 and in fact they are the oldest club in Mayo. Their proudest day came on June 19, 2005 when they won the FAI Junior Cup in Buckley Park, Kilkenny, beating Waterford Crystal 2-0.
They opened this year’s FCS Cup with a 2-1 win over Charlestown Athletic, with Danny Scahill and David Hoban on target. They followed that with a 3-2 victory over Castlebar Celtic, with the goals coming from David Hoban (two) and David Cameron which gifted them a last four clash with last year’s winners Ballyheane. A comprehensive 4-0 win transpired, with Hoban and JP O’Gorman each grabbing a brace. Joint-manager Kieran Mulchrone won’t be taking Ballina lightly on Sunday.
“Any cup game against Ballina is a big game. On a cup final day, anything can happen. It all depends who turns up on the day” he said.
They have shown no signs of easing up as we head into the defining period of the season.
VERDICT: Westport Utd