COMPLETING a domestic treble for the first time is Cockhill Celtic’s goal today (Sunday) as they travel to the Dry Arch to face Letterkenny Rovers in the Donegal News League Cup Final at 6pm.
Cockhill’s name has been engraved in the trophy for the last three years, and they have also claimed the league title in each of those seasons.
The Knockalla Caravans Cup had eluded them, but not anymore.
The Inishowen men got their hands on that valuable piece of silverware three weeks ago, and now they are gunning for the treble according to defender Peter Doherty.
“We’re looking for the treble.
“For the last three years, we’ve managed to win the double, but we weren’t able to win the treble, and we’d like to put that right this year.
“It’s been two or three weeks since our last game, so it’s been a long time coming.
“We’re focussed on the match now and we’re ready to go.”
After Donal O’Brien stepped down as Cockhill manager at the end of last season, there was a bit of uncertainty about what the future held at the Charlie O’Donnell Sports Grounds.
However, Gavin Cullen took the reins as player-manager, with Dan Nolan and Shane Gallivan assisting, and Doherty says the team have had no complaints with how things have gone this year.
Ronan ‘Ollie’ Doherty has signed and made a big impression, while Garbhan Friel was also persuaded to re-join the club after stints with Finn Harps and Institute.
“It’s been brilliant since the three lads took over,” said Doherty.
“It’s been a really professional set-up, and from the outset that’s the way they said it was going to be and everybody seems to be enjoying it.
“We have a few new men in. We didn’t have Gerry (Gill) at the start of the year, but he’s back now.
“We’ve brought in a few lads from Carn, and they’ve made a very good impact on the team.”
Doherty has just finished his exams at LYIT, while he works at Number Six café in the Courtyard Shopping Centre, Letterkenny, where he comes into plenty of contact with Rovers’ players and officials.
He has been impressed with the Lettekenny side’s fine form in the FAI Intermediate Cup, and FAI Senior Cup and he is expecting a close battle this week.
“It sets it up for a good final in fairness. Letterkenny had a good run in the cup competitions and they reached the final of the Intermediate Cup.
“It will be a tight game, but we will still fancy ourselves.”
It’s been a fantastic season for Rovers, but if they lose this weekend they will have nothing to show for it.
Cockhill may have won the league and the Knockalla Caravans Cup, but the Leckview Park outfit stole their thunder somewhat by reaching the FAI Intermediate Cup Final at the Aviva Stadium.
“It’s been a great season for us regardless of what happens on Sunday,” said Rovers skipper, Darren McElwaine.
“The National competitions have been unbelievable for us. We have played in 12 games in it, and realistically, we were only beaten in one, in the Aviva. It was in extra-time when we were beat the last night.
“It’s been an amazing season, and it would be a nice reward for all our efforts if we got a bit of silverware.
“But Cockhill won’t be giving up anything easily. They’re going for the treble and I’m sure they were looking on enviously at the run we went on, and they’ll be pushing for something similar themselves next year.”
Rovers got the upper hand on Cockhill at the start of the year in the Intermediate Cup, and while Cullen’s men won 4-1 in the league earlier this month, it’s fair to say that the Letterkenny men were not at full tilt with their date in the Aviva on the horizon.
McElwaine says his team are tired after a long campaign, but he believes they can get it together for one more match.
“The games that we have played against them over the last few years have all been tight.
“They’re going for a clean sweep of the three local trophies available.
“Gavin Cullen mentioned that the Knockalla Cup was a bonus one, but to me the Knockalla is probably the best to win because it has a full complement of teams in it.
“We’re battered and bruised after the hectic schedule we’ve had.
“It’s going to be three games in eight days for us, and we’ll see who is available on Sunday, and we’ll definitely give it a good rattle.”
Rovers suffered a disappointing defeat to Athlone Town in the FAI Senior Cup on Tuesday night.
That was a tough battle played in warm conditions, and that was sure to be taxing on the players.
However, McElwaine says the mood in their camp was good after the match.
They felt they had let themselves down after losing 5-0 in the FAI Intermediate Cup Final, but they showed against Athlone that they are a good side.
“After what happened against Crumlin, we wanted to put in a performance.
“We were very flat going into the Athlone away game, and once the game kicked off down there, we kind of realised that we’re in the second round of the Senior Cup, and we played well down there and were full value for our 0-0.
“The last night we talked about how we had massive support down in Dublin – something we will never forget – and we wanted to show them that we’re not that bad of a side.
“We had a bad result in the Aviva Stadium and that can happen to anybody.
“It was disappointing that it happened on the big stage, but I think people who were at the game on Tuesday night, would have left thinking that this Rovers team is a good side.”
It should be a good contest which will attract a decent crowd, but one man who won’t be in attendance is Rovers manager Eamon McConigley.
He jetted off to his holiday home in Portugal after the Athlone replay, and his assistant Liam O’Donnell will be calling the shots at Bonagee today.
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