With nothing more than a point separating them in Division One at the end of the Saturday League season, this weekend’s Downtown Cup Final between Kilmacrennan Celtic and Glencar Celtic is a difficult one to call.
The two sides drew their two league meetings this season and while they ended the season third and fourth in the table respectively, they now find themselves just one game away from ending the campaign with some silverware on the table.
For Glencar, Saturday’s decider offers them the chance to win the cup for the third year on the trot. Team manager, Noel Malseed says that’s enough incentive for his players to produce the goods this weekend.
“It would be absolutely brilliant to win three-in-a-row,” he said. “We beat Dunfanaghy Town 3-1 in the final last year and Downtown 2-0 the year before. So our record in the competition has been very good but we know only too well that Kilmacrennan are a good side and they will be difficult to beat in this one.”
Kilmacrennan manager Raymond Shields is in his second season in charge. Last year, his team won the league and while they were very disappointed not to retain that title this year, he says a cup win would make up for it.
“It’s not bad going to be in a cup final at the end of the season,” he said.
“But we’ve got great respect for Glencar Celtic. They’re a very good team and we’ve had some very good games against them.
“We drew with them twice in the league this year 3-3 and 2-2 and there wasn’t much between us in the league at the finish. We just pipped them to third spot but really, both teams could have won the league because it was pretty close all the way.”
Shields is likely to be almost at full strength for Saturday’s cup final, although he’s not sure if he’ll have county player, Daniel McLaughlin available because of GAA commitments. Defender, Johnny Doherty is hoping to shake off a hamstring problem but should be okay while Kevin ‘Wappa’ McMenamin has delayed travelling to London until after Saturday’s game.
Elsewhere Kilmacrennan will look to the experience of players like the Gorman brothers, Gavin and Gary and Martin Sweeney in centre midfield.
The Glencar Celtic manager has a few selection headaches and his immediate task is deciding who should start in goal in place of regular No. 1 Dom Friel who broke a wrist in the semi final win over Erne Wanderers.
Pajo Rafferty is an option for goal but the striker was in such good form at the end of the league season that Noel Malseed is considering starting him up front.
The manager’s cousin, Chris Malseed, recently returned from Australia is another player who has impressed in recent weeks as has Anthony Doherty who according to Noel Malseed, has been outstanding at centre half.
Saturday’s final will be played at Diamond Park, Ballyare and kicks off at 4pm. Considering how well matched Glencar and Kilmacrennan have been this season, don’t be surprised if extra-time and penalties are required to decide this contest.