Packie Mailey and Ronan Coyle both came off the bench to make their debuts as Drumkeen United got the better of Letterkenny Rovers on Thursday night.
The 4-2 victory at St. Patrick’s Park means Drumkeen are now three points clear at the top of the table.
The new signings will certainly help Drumkeen’s push for a first ever league title but manager, Mickey Rodgers feels second-placed Cockhill Celtic are still the favourites. ““They’re favourites and rightly so,” he said.
“They’ve a good squad there, boys playing eight or nine years. Our boys are together one year, we’ve a couple of new guys in and hopefully that will push us over the line. But there’s a lot of points to be fought for yet,” he said.
And on the addition of Coyle and Mailey, Rodgers added: “I know Ronan for years and he’s a super player. He’s a great lad, off and on the field. He brings great experience, talking to the young lads.
“Of course Packie Mailey was up with Harps and captained them. He’s a good lad, he’s hoping to move on to senior football if he can get there, depending on how he does.”
Mailey marked his debut with a goal four minutes from the end which killed off the Rovers challenge. At 3-2, Drumkeen keeper, Paul McCauley produced a brilliant save to deny Odhran McMacken an equaliser.
But Drumkeen deserved their victory and in Michael Carroll, Ryan Gildea, Conor Carlin and David Shovelin, they had some fine performers.
They fell behind to a Darren McElwaine strike with less than 2 minutes gone. But Drumkeen hit back with an equaliser from Carlin on 16 before Eunan Kelly put them 2-1 up before the break.
Shovelin added a third just after the hour mark as Drumkeen looked in control but McElwaine scored his second, this time from the penalty spot, following a foul on McMacken by McCauley.
However, Mailey sealed the points with the fourth late on when he guided the ball home after Ronan Coyle sent a Benny Bonner free back across goal.
Drumkeen Utd.: Paul McCauley, Michael Carroll, Benny Bonner, Ryan Gildea, Seamie (Cosha) Friel, Seimie Friel, Philip Whyte (Richie Moore 85), Mark Marley, Conor Carlin, Eunan Kelly (Ronan Coyle 71), David Shovelin (Packie Mailey 75).
Letterkenny Rovers: Jason Quinn, Glen Gallagher, Jonathan Minnock, Ruairi Kelly, Kieran Gorman, Chris Malseed, Odhran McMacken, Kevin McGrath (Darragh Patton 61), Darren McElwaine, Mark Neeson, Oisin McMenamin.
Referee: Paul Duddy.
Assistants: Stephen Toner, Con McLaughlin.