COCKHILL CELTIC are hoping to pick up their seventh consecutive Ulster Senior League domestic double when they take on Letterkenny Rovers in the Donegal News League Cup Final at Finn Park on Sunday at 2pm.
Cockhill clinched the USL title for a seventh year in-a-row last week, and they’ve still got the hunger to chase another piece of silverware this week.
Gavin Cullen’s team have been in magnificent form once again this year, and they have overcome the loss of Lee McCarron and Marty Doherty to emigration in recent times, while Lee McColgan has travelled to Australia on holiday.
That has left their hand weakened, but they still have the considerable experience of Jimmy Bradley, Gerry Gill and Peter Doherty to call upon, and there will be no hangover from their celebrations last Sunday night.
Cullen said: “We’re down to the bare bones this week really with a few injuries and a couple of boys have emigrated in the last couple of weeks.
“We also lost Garbhan Friel and Ryan Varma to emigration over the last 12 months, so there has been a big turnover of players.
“But we just set out at the start of the season to win the league, and we felt we were capable of doing that.
“I think we deserved to win the league. We only conceded seven goals all season, and only lost one game, so to be fair, we were the best team in it.”
Another man who is a doubt this week is Cockhill’s lively attacker Laurence Toland.
The Ramelton man would be a huge loss if he isn’t fit, as he is a man for the big occasion, as he showed in last year’s final when he scored two goals.
“I don’t think he’s going to make it. He hurt his ribs last week and was in hospital so it’s not looking good for him.
“He’s been brilliant for us, and he will definitely be a big loss, as is Marty Doherty who we lost a few weeks ago.
“But we’ll look at things again during the week in training, and whoever comes in will just have to do their best.”
Player-manager Cullen hasn’t played in the last four games due to a groin injury, but he usually plays in the big matches.
His experience could be needed on Sunday when they play their old foes from Leckview Park.
Rovers hammered Cockhill back in October but Cullen says he wouldn’t read too much into that.
“They beat us 5-0 earlier this year in the Intermediate Cup.
“To be fair, it was the freakiest game I’ve ever played in. We conceded a sloppy goal and then we had two men sent off.
“I think it was the first time that I ever saw us throw the towel in really.
“It was just a one off. We prepared properly as we always do, and we only conceded seven goals after that, so we have been going well.
“We have met Letterkenny a lot of times and thankfully we have held the upper hand in recent years.
“But there’s never much between the teams to be fair and they are usually nip-and-tuck games.
“We know well that Letterkenny are more than good enough to beat us, and we’re good enough to beat them, so it should be a decent game for the neutral.”