Garbhan Friel is back in rich goalscoring form this season, the Cockhill Celtic man already with nine goals to his name.
But ahead of a top-of-the-table clash of the titans at Letterkenny Rovers on Sunday at the Aura Leisure Complex in the Four Lanterns Ulster Senior League, Friel just wants champions Cockhill to keep up their own good run.
Friel has netted nine goals so far this term, including a hat-trick in the 8-4 League win over Finn Harps Reserves on Sunday and a treble against Swilly Rovers in the FAI Intermediate Cup.
“It’s been going not so bad so far,” Friel says as they gear up for their first meeting of the new season with Letterkenny.
“It’s been a bit stop-start this season with games, but we’ve managed to get a couple of games on the bounce now going into this one.
“This will be our first big test, our biggest one so far. Sean McCarron is banging in the goals for Rovers and they’re getting some big results too.”
Cockhill have really laid down a gauntlet of sorts already.
In the Intermediate Cup, Gavin Cullen’s men hammered Swilly 10-0, while they also had an 8-1 win over Swilly in the Donegal News Ulster Senior League Cup.
In the League, they put eight past Finn Harps, netted seven against Swilly and shot six past Bonagee United.
Friel says: “We’ve had a couple of big scorelines, cricket scores some of them, which isn’t ideal for anyone. It’s not ideal for us or for the other team.
“We got a bit of a test on Sunday against Finn Harps. We went 2-0 down and the actual final score didn’t do Finn Harps justice. We had to really dig deep for it.”
Rovers pushed Cockhill all the way and there was little between them at the winning post, when Cockhill just got over the line.
Eamon McConigley’s men have added significantly this season with the recruitment of the likes of Sean McCarron and Pajo Rafferty aiding in their attack.
Friel says: “The League won’t be won or lost this Sunday, but no team wants to give anything away.
“It’s a short enough season and you just can’t afford to drop too many points in these games. Whoever wins on Sunday would get a big advantage.
“We’ll be going in there with all guns blazing. Letterkenny won’t want to give anything away and we’re the same. First and foremost, we know it’ll be a tight game – it always is between us – and one mistake can cost you. It’s about not making that mistake.”
Friel had a spell at Finn Harps, but returned to the Charlie O’Donnell Sports Grounds having not nailed down a regular berth at Finn Park.
Cockhill have obtained the services Mark Coyle, Laurence Toland and Lee McCarron, while Mark Moran and Johnny Havlin have returned and Malachy McDermott is back from injury.
Friel says: “We’ve a very good squad here now. Since I’ve been at Cockhill, this is as strong as we’ve ever looked.
“Losing ‘Shivey’ (Derek Doherty, who injured his anterior cruciate ligament recently), was a downfall, but we’ve taken in top players this season. We’re lucky to have the squad and the numbers we have.
“You have to be at it in this team. If you’re not scoring, not defending, or whatever your job is, there will be men looking to get that place off you.
“That drives us all on and makes us want to do better. You look at Paul McKinney, for example, he came off the bench and score on Sunday, so he’s chomping at the bit.
“We’ve been lucky enough to dominate in the last few years and people ask away and wonder how we keep going. But it’s the competition. Every training session is so competitive, you want to keep the jersey and keep playing and the men on the bench are pushing on so hard.
“I did classes myself in early morning at the start of the season and every man was there. We really did push it on.”
Four Lanterns Ulster Senior League
Sunday, October 29
Cockhill Celtic 8 Finn Harps Reserves 4
Derry City Reserves 2 Letterkenny Rovers 3
Swilly Rovers 2 Bonagee United 2
Four Lanterns Ulster Senior League
Thursday, November 2, 7.30pm
Bonagee United v Finn Harps Reserves
Sunday, November 5, 2pm
Fanad United v Swilly Rovers
Letterkenny Rovers v Cockhill Celtic
|Derry City Reserves||4||3||0||1||14||4||10||9|
|Finn Harps Reserves||4||1||0||3||9||18||-9||3||*|
* Letterkenny Rovers awarded 3-0 win after Finn Harps Res didn’t field
Club PROs are reminded to submit match results, goalscorers and match reports to the League PRO, Chris McNulty, before 6pm on Sunday evenings. Failure to do so will result in a fine being issued. Clubs are further reminded of the importance of correctly filling in the team-sheet in order that names and numbers correspond.Tags: