BY CHRIS MCNULTY
COCKHILL Celtic manager Donal O’Brien feels that the professional approach helped his team to topple Crumlin United and book a place in the last sixteen of the Intermediate Cup.
Goalkeeper Gavin Cullen referenced the set-up at the club being akin to senior clubs – and manager O’Brien says that his team has adopted a professional mindset since drawing Crumlin, winners of this Cup twice in the last five years.
A scoreless draw at Armagh Road two weeks ago set Cockhill up for the upset yesterday and Malachy McDermott was the toast of Buncrana last night after his brace of goals sealed their passage into the next round.
“Do you know what made us this week?” O’Brien asked, before answering his own question: “We went down to Dublin two weeks ago and stayed the night before. That’s what done it. We approached it well.
“People might say that it’s only amateur football and this and that, but when you do it you may as well do it like professionals. We stayed there in Bewley’s in Newlands Cross and it rubbed off on us. We were well prepared.”
Cockhill, the League and Cup double winners in the Ulster Senior League this season, have got their reward. For Dubliner O’Brien, this was a landmark win in his tenure. James Bradley sustained a broken arm in the first clash, while Peter Doherty broke his nose in the same game.
Yesterday, O’Brien was full of praise for his side.
He said: “Fair play to the boys because we were down to the bare bones there today. We’ve boys sick with the flu, boys away, two injured from last week. We deserved it.
“It could’ve gone either way down there. But we battled well today.
“The fitness levels were unreal. We’re going into January now and it will mean that we’re 12 months on the road since pre-season.”
There was a worrying sight for Cockhill with McDermott having had to be helped from the park six minutes from the end.
“We’ll see how Malachy is now for the next day. It looks like his ligaments could be in bother,” said O’Brien, who was glad to see his side find the net from an early set-piece, McDermott powering home a header from Gerry Gill’s corner in the fourth minute.
Two weeks ago, they’d forced well over a dozen set pieces, but couldn’t breach the Crumlin goal.
The Cockhill boss said: “Slow walk up for the set-pieces and take your time but when we go for it, make sure we’re making runs that are getting on the end of it. But everyone played as they could have today but every one of them showed they can dig deep.
“We’re delighted. They’re one of the favourites.”
Exciting times now for Cockhill, who’ll fly the flag for Donegal in the next round when they take on St Mochta’s.
“We’ve the FAI Senior Cup for the first time and the League Cup as well,” O’Brien noted, “so it might allow us to attract players and that’s the level you want to be playing at.”
The selection, to celebrate 30 full seasons of the Ulster Senior League, which first came into being in the...