Cullen and Cockhill aim to keep up their Cup consistency


Gavin Cullen says Cockhill Celtic’s appetite for glory is as bad as ever.

On Sunday, Cockhill – who have won SIX League and Cup doubles in a row – entertain Fanad United at the Charlie O’Donnell Sports Grounds in a Donegal News USL League Cup semi-final.

Cullen took the baton following the departure of Donal O’Brien in 2015, but the ex-Finn Harps goalkeeper has kept the Inishowen men at the summit.

Although, he’d dearly loved to have made more inroads at national level, Cullen and Cockhill haven’t lost any of their value on the domestic competitions.

The Donegal News USL League Cup has been Cockhill’s since a 1-0 win over Drumkeen United in 2013.

“We have a great record in this competition and have been very consistent,” Cullen says.

“We’ve carried that into this season. We won the two group stage games and earned a home semi-final out of that.

“You always want to finish seasons with big games. Getting to a Cup final would give us something to look forward to now. It’s something to aim for and a big day to pencil in.”

Cullen has a full squad available for this weekend as they prepare for the visit of an industrious Fanad, who last weekend made life difficult for Letterkenny Rovers. A 2-1 win for Rovers was met with relief by their crew after a testing 90 minutes.

“Traigh-A-Loch is a tough place to go, so we’re glad to have a home game,” Cullen says.

“We know playing Fanad anywhere won’t be easy. In all my time playing Fanad, we never got it handy. They will always be up for it and will always work hard. Sunday will be no different.

“Letterkenny just about got over the line against them at the weekend, so we know what we’re up against.

“It’s a Cup semi-final and I’m sure a lot of Fanad’s season will depend on this weekend, so that makes it difficult for us.”

Cockhill won last season’s League Cup with a 3-1 win over Letterkenny at Maginn Park, Laurence Toland (2) and Malachy McDermott bagging the goals.

Cullen says they want to hold onto the silverware.

He says: “We want to achieve and we want to win trophies. This is very important for us. Getting to the final is the next step. Any semi-final we’ve ever been involved in, it seems to have a been a lottery.

“Every game at this stage of a season is important. You have to win them all to stay in the hunt.”

Cockhill recently reclaimed the top spot in the League and have a three-point lead on Letterkenny, their nearest rivals, whom they beat in a play-off for the title last season.

Cullen says:  “I don’t think there’ll be anything to separate the top teams at the end of the season again.

“I’m a wee bit disappointed not to be further ahead at this point, but we’re delighted to be ahead at all.

“There’s nothing in it and we have so many tough games to play. Finn Harps and Derry City have really stepped up and are taking points now.

“We have to play Letterkenny and Bonagee; Letterkenny and Bonagee have to play each other twice yet. It’s a long road from now until the end of the season. There will be a few twists and turns.”

The first of the weekend’s Donegal News USL League Cup semi-finals takes place under the glow of Dry Arch Park’s floodlights on Saturday night, when Bonagee United host their cross-town rivals, Letterkenny Rovers.

A late Christy Connaghan goal gave Rovers a narrow League win in Fanad on Sunday and the Cathedral Towners have arrested a post-Christmas dip in what had been near-perfect form.

Eamon McConigley is likely to welcome BJ Banda back into the fold this weekend, while Bonagee manager Jason Gibson has recently added Eugene Ferry, Emmet Friel and Chris Breen to his ranks.


Saturday, February 23, 7.45pm

Donegal News Ulster Senior League Cup semi-final

Bonagee United v Letterkenny Rovers


Sunday, February 24, 2pm

Donegal News Ulster Senior League Cup semi-final

Cockhill Celtic v Fanad United


Four Lanterns Ulster Senior League

Derry City Reserves v Swilly Rovers

Sports writer from St Johnston, now based in Letterkenny, with ten years' experience covering sport in Donegal. Was a nominee for NUJ Sports Journalist of the Year in 2010. Honoured by the Donegal Boxing Board in 2016 for his coverage on the sport.

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