The Ulster Senior League season gets underway this week with four games in the Donegal News League Cup.
Group A consists of Bonagee United, Cockhill Celtic, Derry City, Drumkeen United and Kildrum Tigers with Group B being made up of four founding League members - Buncrana Hearts, Fanad United, Letterkenny Rovers and Swilly Rovers.
The action gets underway this Thursday evening in Swilly Park with Jason Gibson’s Swilly Rovers team taking on Eamon McConigley’s Letterkenny Rovers. The Cathedral Town men warmed up with a comprehensive 4-1 win away to fellow group members Buncrana Hearts in the Knockalla Cup on Sunday and will be hopeful they have enough to overcome the Ramelton men in what should be a close game.
Swilly will have been disappointed to lose at home to Bonagee United, 4-2 after extra-time, in the Knockalla Cup but the extra period will add some fitness at the end of pre-season and may benefit them on Thursday evening.
Holders Fanad United get their campaign underway on Sunday with a trip to Inishowen for a Castle Park encounter with a Hearts team that have struggled for consistency in recent seasons.
They have been known to rise to the occasion so it would be no shock if they managed a share of the spoils on home turf though the suspension of Matthew Cutliffe won’t help their cause.
The holders however look strong on paper and their encounter with Monaghan when they came agonisingly close to pulling off the shock of the round in the EA Sports League Cup will stand them in good stead and they will start firm favourites on Sunday, having added Kieran Gorman to an already miserly defence.
Group A gets underway on Sunday with local rivals Bonagee United and Drumkeen United facing off at Dry Arch Park. The home side will be hoping to put the frustrations of last season behind them when a lot of nice football didn’t often get it’s just reward. They have lost a few players, most notably Graham Cullen who has returned to rivals Letterkenny but Peter Moran has added a few talented players and after a good pre-season they will hope that home advantage will be enough to see them off to a flyer.
Confidence will be boosted by Sunday’s Knockalla Cup win over Swilly with extra-time posing no problems for this young team. Drumkeen United await their fate in the FAI Senior Cup and their cup run will have given the whole club a boost. They have a solid nucleus and with no major departures this term they will hope they can continue their good cup form and put one over their near neighbours in what is going to be a very difficult group to qualify from for all teams.
Last year’s beaten finalists Cockhill Celtic will have a tough start against Kildrum Tigers. After the Tigers great result last Sunday that saw them progress to round two of the FAI Senior Cup with a superb 1-0 win over Clonmel Celtic at Station Road thanks to a Cormac Carlin strike, Raymond McDaid’s team go to Cockhill with their tails up and after a strong finish to last year’s league campaign they will travel Inishowen looking for a win.
Donal O’Brien will have different idea’s though as Cockhill looked likely champions for a large part of last season and no doubt they will want to set down an early marker against one of their main rivals for both the League Cup and the League. There is no doubt that this is the match of the day with the winner taking an early advantage in the quest for qualification for the semi-finals.
Fixtures - Donegal News League Cup
Swilly Rovers v Letterkenny Rovers -
Bonagee United v Drumkeen United Packie Coll
Cockhill Celtic v Kildrum Tigers
Buncrana Hearts v Fanad United
Knockalla Caravans Cup
Drumkeen United v Kildrum Tigers -