Castlebar Town's Luciano. Photo: Ger Sweeney

Return of the Town and Erris to the Mayo League


THE biggest story ahead of the beginning of McDonnell Construction League Two is the return of two well-established clubs to Mayo junior football, Castlebar Town and Iorras Aontaithe.

Iorras, who pulled out of the league before the beginning of last season, have made a swift return and have assembled a strong squad. Their joint management team are the trio of Micheal McHale, Micheal Meenaghan and Brendan Nallen, and many observers are citing them as the favourites for the league this year.

In their opening two games, they beat Fahy Rovers B in the McDonnell Cup before firing a warning to all in the Premier Cup by dumping out the holders Ballinrobe Town in the opening round.

In the county town, the return of Castlebar Town to Mayo League football for the first time since the mid-2000s is major plus for the club.

They have developed a strong underage system and with a path to the senior team now available, they will look to push on.

Pat Ahern, who was Castlebar Celtic B assistant manager for last season’s League Two triumph and has also managed the Castlebar Celtic Under 18 team in recent years, will know what it takes to get a side ready to compete at the top of the division.

“It’s very good to be here,” said Ahern at the League Two launch night in the TF Royal Hotel & Theatre. “I think it’s been 15 to 16 years since the club had a team in the Mayo League. There’s a good few lads there and we’ve made a couple of signings coming to the new season. We’re getting there for the new season.

“We drew the first game with Crossmolina B before losing on penalties. It was a learning curve for some of the lads who haven’t played for a few years.

“I think we’ll be able to battle for promotion this year if get a few lads in. We’ve a solid starting 11 and we’ll look to strengthen the squad.”


Another team who will look to kick on is Partry Athletic. It appeared at one stage last season that Partry were among the leading pack to be crowned champions. But a five-day period where they lost to Ballyheane B in the McDonnell Cup final and then in the league after being two-nil ahead proved fatal in the end as they missed out on promotion by two points.

“It was tough last season,” admitted Cathal Cronin. “We started with a really young team and did really well. But in the end, the lack of experience showed. We were real confident going into the cup final and the defeat knocked us. We went two-nil up on their ground and we took it for granted. They came back and showed their quality in the end.

“Some of the younger lads there have a bit more experience now. They’re starting to bed in. We have some older lads also. We hope to push on and be league champions this year.”

Ballyvary Blue Bombers were tipped by some pundits to be among those chose few to be promoted last season but fell away after defeats to the likes of Ballyheane B, Claremorris B and Castlebar Celtic B, finishing mid-table in the end.

“Last season was tough enough,” said Patrick Lynch. “We got a good start but trailed off after a couple of hard losses. But we’ve made some good additions and it’s all positive from here.

“We only lost to the top sides and with some games, there was only a kick of the ball in it in the end. We were there or thereabouts last year and we’ll look to kick on next year.”

Two of their most experienced players, Simon Cloherty and Kevin Mannion, will look to spearhead their charge again. Coupled with some recent signings, Lynch fells Ballyvary can be ready to push for promotion this season.

“It’s hard to get rid of them! They’re still going strong and they were on the scoresheet in our McDonnell Cup game.

“I think we can challenge for promotion with the signings we’ve made.”