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News Report

Opening Weekend Preview

23/03/18

Derek Glynn scores for Claremorris v Ballina Town

The much anticipated 2018 Mayo League season kicks-off on Sunday with action in both the Elverys Sports Super League and CastleCourt Hotel Premier League.

Elverys Sports Super League

Castlebar Celtic v Claremorris (Sun 11.30am)
Michael McNicholas is back in charge of a Super League side as he has made the return to Celtic Park where he has had an instant impact as they have reached the semi-finals of the Connacht Cup where they were given a home draw against Sligo side Carbury. Before that they will look to get their domestic season off to a good start when they host Claremorris at Celtic Park. They were unbeaten at home throughout last season, so Claremorris couldn’t have asked for a much tougher start to the 2018 season. Mark Peters side finished mid table last year but did manage to pick up four points in their two games against their opening day opponents. They have Finnian Brady and Adam Murphy back in their squad this year and Danny Broderick has returned to his home town club after a few years away playing for Castlebar Celtic and more recently Ballyglass.

Kiltimagh/Knock United v Ballyheane (Sun 11.30am) - Postponed

Ballina Town v Manulla (Sun 2.30pm)

Manulla were within touching distance of the title last season and have been given a tough start this time around as they travel to Belleek to take on Ballina Town in their opening game. Ballina were disappointed with how they started last season went but manager Mick Duffy will be confident that his youthful side can challenge the likes of Manulla and Westport this time around. Last season’s Connacht Gold Cup winners have some very talented players at their disposal with Luke Honan, Jamie Cawley and Mark Birrane being amongst the best young players in the county. Manulla added a few new players to the squad last season but this year they are relying on their youth setup to provide a few new faces for the first team especially after losing Cillian McGlade and Michael Guilfoyle to rival teams. Super League player of the year Chris Maughan will need to continue to show the form that earned him that award last year and others like Gerry Canavan, Paul Lawless and Sean Morrissey will also have to lead the way if we are to see them challenge the top teams. 


Iorras Aontaithe v Straide & Foxford Utd (Sun 2.30pm)
Newly promoted Iorras Aontaithe will be looking to continue their impressive form from last season when they went unbeaten for the entire year. Paul Reilly and Gareth O’Malley have taken over from Brendan Nallen as manager to allow Brendan to focus on playing this season. The Premier League Player of the year will need to continuethe impressive form he showed last season if his side are to make an impression in the top division. Youngsters like Tom Ivan and Ryan Ruddy made the Premier League Team of the Year last year and Iorras will need these young players to adapt to life in the Super League quickly. Straide & Foxford United proved that they belong in the top division last season and Paul Large’s side will be confident they can continue to challenge at the top of the table in 2018. John Durkan was their key player in attack and with the addition of Johnnie Cocozza, Daniel Gorman and Michael Guilfoyle to their squad they are capable of getting a result against all the top sides on their day.

Ballyglass v Westport United (Sun 2.30pm)
Westport United have had a change of manager for the new season but this fresh voice should have a huge impact as they aim for their fifth Super League title in a row. Former League of Ireland star John Russell is the new man in charge and undoubtedly his experience of playing at a higher level will add to an already focused United squad. The signing of Cillian McGlade from Manulla has probably been the standout signing of any Super League team and this can only add to the Champions already strong squad especially with Mikey O’Brien and Cian McAllister back in the reckoning as well. They begin the new season with a trip to Tom Connolly’s Ballyglass side who will be aiming to get back to their form of two seasons ago when they challenged Westport for the title. Liam Hughes and Conor Heneghan have returned from Sligo Rovers Under 19's and Ritchie Dalton has returned from Canada and he is expected to have a big impact on Ballyglass this year.

CastleCourt Hotel Premier Division

Glenhest Rovers v Conn Rangers (Sun 11.30am)

Glenhest Rovers could consider themselves a little unlucky to be back in the Premier League when they were relegated after a play-off defeat to Ballyheane at the end of last season. They will be one of the favourites to make an instant return to the top division and with players of the quality of Chris Rowland and Kevin Warde they should be challenging at the right end of the table. Last season Conn Rangers took time to adapt to being back in the Premier League but they are a side with a good mix of experience and youth and if they can find a striker or two to improve on their goal scoring rate they will be a match for anyone on their day.

Swinford v Ballyglass B (Sun 11.30am)
Swinford have had a very productive Winter as they have reached the semi-finals of the Connacht Shield and these extra games should give them a big fitness advantage going into the new season. James Devaney and Paddy O’Donnell have been their star players recently and if they can manage to get more consistency into their game throughout the season they could also be one of the sides that are in the promotion challenge. Ballyglass B are new to the Premier League after achieving promotion from League One last season and they will need to continue to show the defensive qualities that proved crucial last season if they are to consolidate their position in the Premier League.

Westport United B v Snugboro United (Sun 11.30am)
Snugboro United enter the Premier Division off the back of two successive promotions and they will be confident that they will have make the step up to Premier League football but on Sunday they face a Westport United B that have been in the second tier of Mayo football for many years. Aaron Curry has hung up his boots to take over as manager of Snugboro and he will be relying on their best performers over the past two seasons to lead the way again this year especially Jonathon Walsh and Sean Curry. Westport always prove to be more than competitive in this division and with a good mix of youth and experience this season will probably be no different.

Ballyhaunis Town v Bangor Hibs (Sun 3.15pm at Solar 21 Park)
Both of these sides were fortunate to survive in the Premier Division last season as they struggled to keep clean sheets especially in the second half of the season. Ballyhaunis failed to pick up a win away from home as they relied on their home form and they will be hoping that their move away from Station Road (Work being carried out on the grounds) this year will not lead to a poor season. Tommy Page’s side will be delighted to have stayed up last year after promotion from League One in 2016 and their aim now will be to take the next step up and challenge for a place in the Super League. Hibs have added a number of youngsters to their squad this year and they may take a while to the adapt to the pace of the Junior game and they will need some of their more experienced players such as Anthony Coyle and Stevie Winters to hit top form from the off if they are to avoid a repeat of last seasons struggles. 

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