Gweedore Celtic can win their second successive Brian McCormick Sports Premier Division title on Sunday at Milford United’s Moyle View Park - but they’ll be keeping an ear out to see what’s going on as Glenea United face Castlefin Celtic.
Hughie Rua Gallagher’s side currently lead their neighbours by two points, 44 to 42, so have the comfort of knowing that a draw against Milford will at worst guarantee them a winner takes all play-off.
However, that’s always a delicate thing to aim for and should the defending league champions slip up against third-placed Milford, then the chasers from Glaserchoo will be ready to pounce.
Gweedore have been in excellent form all season. Having won their final 11 league games to seal the championship on the last day of last term at Letterkenny Community Centre, when two Colin Ferry goals dethroned Kilmacrennan Celtic at Letterkenny Community Centre on May Bank Holiday weekend, their momentum has carried them to the doorstep of another title.
“We finished last season well and have managed to carry that form onto this season,” Gallagher, who captained the team to their last title wins in succession in 1984-85 and 1985-86, said. “Milford away, though, is a very tough fixture. “Last year Kilmacrennan and us were vying for the title and this year, although Milford cannot win the league, they have an Ulster Cup final against Clonmany coming up so their season is far from over.”
This season, the side from An Screaban have lost just once all term, a 2-1 loss against Glenea in February that breathed some life into their neighbours’ league hopes. Darren McGeever scored twice that particular afternoon and the result helped to ensure parity at the table’s top. Another big result, one that might grow in importance come Sunday evening, was Glenea snatching a 1-1 draw at An Screaban when Michael McClafferty scored a 94th minute leveller.
For Sunday, Shane Barr, a long term absentee with a cruciate injury, and the hamstrung Odhran MacNiallais are definitely out.
On the plus side, 43-goal Tomas Diver is back from his honeymoon to spearhead the attack and David McGee and Damien O’Sullivan are expected to be available after head and groin injuries respectively.
Last year’s double winners also have the Brian McCormick Sports Cup to defend against Donegal Town the weekend after next, as well as an away fixture against Ulster Senior League champions Fanad United in the Knockalla Caravans Cup.
The two-point margin that now exists comes laterally after Glenea squandered a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with Kilmacrennan, with Eddie Doherty scoring twice.
There was a bittersweet feeling for Glenea that particular day as the draw actually put them on top of the table for the first time but Gweedore soon reclaimed their advantage.
However, with a young squad at his disposal, Tom Coll admitted he is delighted with the progress made this term. And all they can do on Sunday at Parkview is concentrate on their own job against a Castlefin side that require a point to get them out of a potential promotion-relegation play-off at Lifford Celtic’s expense.
“There will be a bit of excitement no matter what happens,” Coll said. “All we can do is get our own job done and then hope Milford can do us a favour.
“We really need to win but Castlefin need a point themselves so we need to concentrate on ourselves.”
Coll is likely to have a full squad to choose from although with players like McGeever, Kevin Mulhern and Sean Maguire also part of the Cloughaneely set-up in the All-County League Division Two, will know his deck closer to Sunday. Cloughaneely welcome Malin to Falcarragh on Friday night and then are away to Glenfin on Sunday afternoon.
But whatever happens on Sunday in Castlefin, Coll is content with a competent season, one that certainly exceeded his own expectations last August.
“I didn’t envisage us having any sort of chance to win the league come the last day of the season for one minute so it’s been a good year for us,” he continued.
“We have a very young team, with the entire squad aged between 16 and 25 so if it doesn’t happen this season then so be it.
“It’s nice with that in mind to be in this position and I’ve over the moon with how things have gone so far.
“These lads are a pleasure to work with and I’ve no doubt they will go on to win plenty of things in the future. Hopefully we can manage to keep them around the area.
“So, as I said, we’ll have to do the business against Castlefin before we can even start thinking about Milford and Gweedore. I’m sure we’ll be getting texts the whole way through. Hopefully they’ll be good ones.”