BY RYAN FERRY
COCKHILL Celtic will retain Ulster Senior League title if they defeat Letterkenny Rovers at Leckview Park on Sunday at 2pm.
Donal O’Brien’s Cockhill are unbeaten all season in the league and a victory over the Letterkenny men will see them lift the USL crown for the third time.
Cockhill kept their double dream alive with a dramatic win over Rovers in the Donegal News League Cup on Sunday afternoon.
A Darren McElwaine penalty gave Rovers the lead, but Brendan McLaughlin equalised and a 95th minute header from Paul McKinney sent Cockhill through to the final.
O’Brien is looking forward to this weekend’s clash although he acknowledges that Trevor Scanlon’s team will be intent on spoiling their party.
“It’s going to be tight again. Sunday’s result sets it up nicely. They’re going to be licking their wounds next week and they’ll be disappointed,” said the Cockhill boss.
“We’ll come in this week and we’ll work hard and hopefully we can go again next Sunday and get the win we need to take the league.”
Cockhill are a supremely well organised side and O’Brien puts much of their success down to their endeavours on the training field.
“It’s been hard work and these boys deserve everything they’ve got. They keep on working hard and you only get out what you put in. That’s what I keep on saying and these boys continue to do it and I think there’s even a lot more to come from these boys.”
Cockhill are on course for their second successive double, but O’Brien is not getting carried away and he realises that they could still end up trophyless.
“Yes, it’s been a good season so far, but we’ve won nothing yet,” he laughed. “We’ll see what happens at the end of the season and see what we’ve won.
“There’s nothing won yet, but we’ve a final to look forward to now and we’ll see how that goes and hopefully we’ll win the league on Sunday.”
Cockhill would have had their eyes set on a domestic treble, but Swilly Rovers scuppered that when they beat the Inishowen men in the semi-final of the Knockalla Caravans Cup final.
“Swilly appear to be a bit of a bogey team. They beat us in the Knockalla and they beat us in the League Cup a couple of days before that.
“We didn’t take our chances that day and even last Sunday, we had a few chances that could have made it easier for ourselves.
“We know there are days when we can hit teams for seven, but there are other days when it just doesn’t work like that.
“But we’ve been good this year at grinding it out. We keep on going. Swilly beat us twice this season and that’s the first time in a year and a half that those boys have been beaten, and it was hard to take.”
O’Brien was pleased with the character shown by since that defeat to the Ramelton men and he commended their winning attitude.
“We weren’t soul searching, but we starting talking it out, and we just said that you don’t become a bad team straight away.
“We went back at it and we said we’d just continue to do what we had been doing and we have a few boys back now from injury at the right time and they’ve come into important positions.
“Everybody is enjoying it and everybody is believing and I’ll never question their ability to want more silverware.
“We won the double last year and we’re on course for it again. It’s about that drive to win more when you get on a bit of a run and it’s hard for teams to stop you.
Derry City Reserves have had a great season and they will be praying that Cockhill slip up in Leckview.
John Quigg’s Derry defeated Fanad United 8-0 on Wednesday to close the gap at the top of the league to just one point, although Cockhill have played a game less.
If Cockhill fail to win this weekend, Derry will win the league if they beat O’Brien’s team on the final day of the season.
“Derry are a very, very strong team. They’ve got good lads and they’ve been able to mix it up with a few first-team players as well,” said the O’Brien.
“We play them on the last day of the season and that will be tough so hopefully we’ll have the league won at that stage,” he added.