If Glenea United and Rathmullan Celtic can serve up half the entertainment in Sunday’s Brian McCormick Sports Cup final as they did in their final league match of the season at Flagpole Park, the neutrals in attendance for Sunday’s final are in for a treat.
On that afternoon just two weeks ago, though, there was only one winner and it wasn’t the side managed by Tom Coll, or even his opposite number Mark Curran, as Lifford Celtic won the Premier Division.
However, Rathmullan were accused at the time by Glenea of being a little over-exuberant in their celebrations when Dara Patton levelled a ding-dong contest at 4-4 three minutes into time added on.
The goal brought to an end the Glaserchoo side’s chances of winning back to back titles, just four minutes after Michael Barry’s goal appeared to be enough for Glenea to maintain their silverware.
“It wasn’t nice,” said Coll, in relation to the festivities that greeted Rathmullan’s equaliser. “We weren’t annoyed that they equalised, obviously, but it was the manner that we were treated and what was said afterwards that annoyed us.
“But it’s hard to knock those lads of our ladds. They’ll always come back. It was disappointing, of course, but you just have to learn to get over these things.
“The vast majority of those lads are still 22 or 23 and when something like that happens to you, you just have to use it as a learning curve and try to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
That’s water under the bridge now and Glenea, who won the corresponding league fixture 1-0 back in October when Ryan McFadden scored the only goal of the game, can still end their season with a trophy. They defeated Donegal Town FC, last year’s beaten finalists to Gweedore Celtic, by five goals to one in a lopsided semi-final.
As always, Coll is waiting to see on the availability of his GAA contingent, with Cloughaneely pencilled in to play Naomh Muire away on Friday night and then Bundoran at home on Sunday. Kevin Mulhern and Sean Maguire are the two crossover players and Coll, who won the Premier Division last season while the former was in Boston, will have to play a waiting game.
“We’ll see what happens with the Gaelic, if it gets changed or not,” Coll said. “If it doesn’t we’ll probably be missing a few but that’s something we’ve had to get used to over the last few weeks, so we’ll just have to get on with it.”
Rathmullan are also a club that have been in the winning enclosure of late. Last season they added the Milford Inn Division One title to the CT Ball Division Two crown they had won 12 months beforehand.
Their dreams of an unprecedented three-in-a-row fell by the wayside this term in the Premier Divison, although they can certainly be proud of a third-placed finish – eight points behind Sunday’s opponents and level with Milford United.
Curran won’t be part of the journey next season to see where the side from the seaside end up as he will be stepping down after Sunday’s final. He hopes to make it a successful climax but knows it will be a stiff challenge.
“Glenea are a very hungry team,” he said. “I was very impressed with their hunger and work rate a few weeks ago and because they won the league last year and finished runners-up this year, I’d have them as favourites on Sunday.
“But if we can match them in terms of work ethic, keep our shape strong at the back and our big lads like Eamon Sheridan, Oisin McMenamin, Dara Patton and Eoin Sheridan all shine, then that could be what wins us the game.”
Rathmullan squeezed past Lifford in the semi-final, coming from a goal down to win 2-1 late in extra-time. And whatever about the celebrations that concluded the league match between them and Glenea two weeks ago, Curran is eager for both teams to show what they are capable of in Sunday’s final.
“I just hope the football takes centre stage and nothing takes away from what should be a great occasion,” he said. “What happened between myself and Tom the last day was all heat of the moment. It’s been put to bed and win or lose on Sunday I’ll still shake his hand.”
Sunday’s final is due to take place at 2pm. Ballyare’s Diamond Park is the preferred venue but wasn’t dry enough to hosts last weekend’s John Gorey Cup final between Letterkenny Rovers and Swilly Rovers, so a decision on where the venue i will be made on the Brian McCormick Sports Cup final will be taken nearer the game.