Novel pair makes for interesting Knockalla final

Those who study the form might’ve been off the mark with the predictions as a Knockalla Caravans Cup final pairing of Glenea United and Bonagee United meet at Leckview Park (kick-off 2pm).

Those who study the form might’ve been off the mark with the predictions as a Knockalla Caravans Cup final pairing of Glenea United and Bonagee United meet at Leckview Park (kick-off 2pm).

Glenea face a goalkeeper crisis with Shaun McClafferty on duty with Donegal minors in their Ulster championship quarter-final against Derry on Sunday in Omagh and replacement Ciaran Gallagher gone to London. Manager Tom Coll will field his brother-in-law Cathal Gallagher.

Coll’s team are still bouncing from their first Donegal League Premier Division success in eight years, following their penalty shoot-out victory over Gweedore Celtic at a miserably wet Diamond Park two weeks’ ago and will collect their winners’ medals at Friday’s presentation night. However, they showed no sign of a hangover last week to cause a considerable upset in the Knockalla semi-final, winning 2-1 at Station Road against Kildrum Tigers of the Ulster Senior League, without McClafferty, Brian Cuffe, Sean Maguire and Donal Coll. Highly-rated Inishowen League outfit Clonmany Shamrocks were their previous victims.

Those successes are even more praiseworthy considering Glenea were forced to line out without their skipper Kevin Mulhern, who is in the United States for the summer in the colours of the GAA club, Donegal Boston. However, the likes of Maguire, Ryan McFadden and Darren McGeever have helped the club immeasurably of late.

“We deserved to get the result and it was a nice bonus,” manager Coll said of Kildrum. “It’s a great season and a win on Sunday would be a great way to finish it off. I thought between the extra-time against Gweedore and the fact some of the lads played Gaelic on Saturday for Cloughaneely would take its toll but they played well.”

Bonagee currently sit bottom of the Ulster Senior League, albeit with just the one game played - a 4-1 loss at the hands of Cockhill Celtic last weekend. Three late Cockhill goals gave that particular result probably a worse reflection.

However, their season has certainly peaked in the Knockalla. They were unlikely winners at Letterkenny Rovers in the quarter-final but had Dean Larkin to thank for a brace in a fine 2-0 away win.

Then, in the semi-final, Fanad United led by two goals to one with only 13 minutes to play at Dry Arch Park. Terrible conditions of wind and rain looked to have blighted the chances of the team managed by Peter Moran. However, Greg Magee levelled matters with a free-kick before winning the match with a penalty on 82 minutes.

Before any thoughts of Glenea, though, Bonagee were due to face Fanad again last night. Going into that match David Tyrell was the only doubt with a dead leg. Manager Moran will be relying on players like JP Doran, Aidan McLaughlin and Glen Rainey.

“Glenea, for me, are favourites,” Moran said. “They might be a Donegal League side and we’re in the Ulster Senior League but any side that had the season they have had deserve great credit. They’re honest and young and it’ll be an interesting match.

“We’ve done well so far this season. Like Glenea we’ve a young side but they have that bit of experience having picked up a piece of silverware already this season and that’s something we’d love to do.”