Touhy Cup Final Preview
Ballyhaunis Town vs Newport Town
Sunday July 20th at 3pm
Milebush Park, Castlebar
THE prestigious Touhy Cup is up for grabs on Sunday with Newport Town back in the big time after their McDonnell Cup win last season. On the other side of the coin Ballyhaunis Town will be hoping to win it for the first time since 1979.
When Newport Town reformed back in 2011 after a period of uncertainty, they set out a list of targets and they certainly have lived up to their word in the meantime. Reaching three Cup finals in the space of four years is testament to that. Their journey in the Mayo League started back in 1983 but like all clubs across the country emigration has gripped them and they broke up in the mid 1990’s.
They made the breakthrough last year when they picked up the McDonnell Cup beating Manulla “B” 3-2, with Declan McTigue netting the winner. Winning the League 2 title as well only copper-fastened their dominance in a stunning season.
They hope to build on that success on Sunday against league rivals Ballyhaunis Town after pipping Kiltimagh/Knock Utd at the post in the last four, with Mark Gill landing the killer-punch. In the 1st round they carved out a hard fought 1-0 win over Mulranny Utd with Niall Mullarkey slotting a crucial penalty. With skipper Tim Davitt out injured new leaders will be required at Milebush Park on Sunday.
The depth of talent in the squad ensures that the likes of Ciarán O’Connell, Johnny O’Donnell and Padraig McManamon will provide the ammunition that will hopefully fire them over the line.
Joint-manager Patrick Sweeney who is hoping to manage his side to a second title in four seasons reflects on an injury-ridden season. ‘Our best game this season was against Kiltimagh/Knock Utd to be honest, because we were kind of hit and miss in the league as we were missing too many players with injury.
‘We have been struggling with injuries. We probably have 4/5 players injured all season and that hasn’t helped our cause.’
Standing in their way is the well-drilled East Mayo outfit Ballyhaunis Town who have been brewing up a storm recently with some fantastic displays in the Premier “B” division.
Sitting in third place, three points adrift of league leaders Kiltimagh/Knock Utd who were marginally defeated by Newport Town in the semi-final just shows how competitive Sunday’s clash will be. However, when the sides clashed two weeks ago in round eleven of the league Ballyhaunis showed no mercy running away with a 5-2 win. The likes of Jarlath Carney, Conor Freeley and Gerry Gallagher will be hoping to keep that rich vein of form going on Sunday.
However, Ballyhaunis joint manager Karl Brien doesn’t buy into the notion that they are favourites on Sunday. ‘I couldn’t say that we are favourites at all. I know Newport are a couple of points below us but, they are a very well organised team, very fast, physically very good and it will take a lot of effort to beat them.’
Ballyhaunis certainly earned their place on Sunday after they navigated some tricky ties none more so than their 1st round win over Achill Rovers. It finished 2-2 (AET) however, they stayed calm and composed winning 5-4 on penalties and booked a quarter-final clash against Castlebar Celtic “C”. A second half Michael Waldron header broke the Castlebar resistance and it gifted them a passage into the semi-final against Glenhest Rovers.
Goals from Gerry Gallagher, Aidan Paul Kelly, Fergus Coyne, Michael Krusina and an unfortunate own goal earned them a comfortable 5-0 win and now sets up a mouth-watering clash against Newport Town.
Verdict: Ballyhaunis Town
John Brennan for the Mayo Football League