Soccer – Donegal News Ulster Senior League Cup Final
BY LIAM PORTER
The Ulster Senior League’s two best teams of this season – Drumkeen United and Cockhill Celtic – will lock horns this weekend in the final of the Donegal News Ulster Senior League Cup final, and with the same two teams battling it out for the league title, the winners will be hoping to gain a psychological advantage before what could be a thrilling showdown.
Cockhill currently lie two points clear of Drumkeen in the league and the two sides could be set to meet in a winner takes all finale to the league season – but before that comes the opportunity for silverware this weekend.
Drumkeen manager Mickey Rodgers says Sunday’s final will be a huge day for the club and while he believes Cockhill are favourites for the cup, he insists that doesn’t mean his team will fear Donal O’Brien’s side.
“I think in terms of the experience they have in their side they will go into the game as favourites. They have been around for a good few seasons now and they have very experienced players to call on who will have been in big games like this before, so from that point of view I think they will go in as favourites.”
But Rodgers maintains his team has come on in leaps and bounds over this season and will be going all out for victory on Sunday.
“People will look at our league meeting in Drumkeen as a gauge, but when you realise it was 11 v 10 for a long time in that match, it probably isn’t a true reflection of how the game could have panned out.”
With new players added to his panel since then, the Drumkeen manager agrees that his side are stronger now than they were at the time of that league game as well.
“Conor Carlin came in that day and that was his first game and we have added a few more players since then and I think we’re stronger now. Over the last number of weeks I think we have been playing very good football as well and we’re really looking forward to this final.”
Drumkeen trailed the semi-final at home to Swilly Rovers but came back to chalk up what was in the end, a comfortable 3-1 win and Rodgers suggested it was a sign of the determination that exists in his outfit now.
“There have always been good players here but I just don’t think they ever had that real belief in themselves and to be fair to the lads they have shown it time and again this season. In the past we might have gone on to lose that semi-final by 2-0 or 3-0 once a goal was conceded, but we showed that little bit of mental strength that has been lacking in the past.”
He knows that strength will be needed in abundance against a Cockhill team who have been extremely consistent all season.
“Our lads have been consistent as well and from aspect Sunday’s final will be contested between the two best teams of this season and it should be a cracking contest. We will certainly give them the respect they merit, but we don’t fear them.”
Rodgers is particularly keen to see how some of his younger players like David Shovlin, Christopher McBride and Conor Carlin fair against the experienced heads like Malachy McDermott, Gerry Gill and Garbhan Friel who make up the opposition.
“Donal has a very experienced squad to choose from, right from Gavin Cullen in goal and throughout the team. But we have some excellent young players right through the team, some of whom I honestly believe could go on to play at a higher level if they keep putting the work in and it will be interesting to see how those young players react on the day. If they don’t let the occasion get to them I think it will make for a very interesting battle.”
Meanwhile it is understood that neither side is happy that a league game will be played at the final venue in Bonagee on Sunday, just hours before the cup final. Sunday’s league fixtures sees Bonagee United due to meet Letterkenny Rovers in the local derby at 1.30pm. in Bonagee.
The Donegal News League Cup Final will kick off at 5.30pm on Sunday, also in Bonagee.
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