LETTERKENNY Rovers manager Eamon McConigley concedes that his club have been the bridesmaids to Cockhill over the last seven campaigns, but he’s hoping all eyes will be on his men around 4pm this Sunday when the Donegal News League Cup is presented.
Rovers appeared set to make a big push for the USL crown this season, and they were the form team before Christmas.
However, a slow start to 2019 ultimately proved costly and their rivals Cockhill took advantage.
“I think we probably have a relatively young squad and we took our eye off the ball in regards to training over Christmas,” McConigley explained.
“Then we met a very, very good Derry side in our first game back at the Brandywell.
“Declan Devine had just taken over the Derry senior job, and the Institute manager was there, so all the Derry lads were out to impress, and they were fitter than we were.
“They went 1-0 up early and we equalised, but they got a winner late on.
“In saying that, the game was videoed and we had a stone wall penalty denied.
“We were a bit unfortunate that day, but to be fair, we didn’t play well after that.”
Rovers were beaten by Glengad United in the Knockalla Caravans Cup, so there is plenty at stake for McConigley’s charges this week.
A win will put a positive slant on the campaign, but defeat will add to their frustration.
“In the Ulster Senior League, there are three trophies that you can win, and I always say if you can come away with one, you can be happy with the season.
“We’re all disappointed that the league got away from us this season, but fair play to Cockhill, they have the experience and they got over the lead.
“It’s not easy being the bridesmaid, but hopefully we will get a cup this week.”
Rovers lost to Cockhill back in the group stages of the Donegal News League Cup, but they are unbeaten in the four games they have played against the Charlie O’Donnell Sports Grounds outfit since.
“We beat them in the League and in the Intermediate Cup and we also drew our next two games.
“Cockhill are a very good side don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think they have to contend with the same enthusiasm from other teams that we have to.
“There is a lot of rivalry among the Donegal teams, and they all raise their game when they play us.
“Cockhill probably don’t have that as much, and if there were one or two teams in the league from Inishowen like Glengad or Greencastle, it might be a wee bit different if they had those local derbies.
“We appear to be the only team that can put it up to them most years.
“But that’s not to take away from Cockhill, who are a brilliant side, and I want to congratulate them on their success.”
Rovers are sweating on the fitness of ace striker BJ Banda, after he was replaced in their 2-0 win over Derry City Reserves last Saturday.
McConigley said: “BJ played very well against Derry, but he tweaked his angle ligaments.
“We’re hoping he will be able to play but we will see how things go. We don’t have any other injuries at the moment.”
Kick-off in the Donegal News League Cup Final is at 2pm in Finn Park.
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