Ballybofey United, CT Ball Division champions
Ballybofey United have the chance to seal what would be a memorable league and cup double success this Sunday when they meet Rathmullan Celtic in the final of the Brian McCormick Sports Cup.
Champions of the CT Ball Division 2 in the Donegal League, Ballybofey are seeking a first cup final victory in 39 years.
Ironically, that cup win, in the final of the old IAWS Cup against Letterkenny Rovers, came at Bonagee’s Dry Arch Park - the venue for this Sunday’s cup decider.
Ballybofey are up against Premier Division opposition in Rathmullan Celtic who last won this cup back in 2013 when they came out on top against Glenea United.
Rathmullan player-manager, Dara Patton, was part of the winning team that day, and he said the players want to experience that winning feeling again this Sunday.
“We earmarked this cup as one of our priorities this season,” he said.
“Obviously the league is the most important, but when we kept our cup run going, it meant there was always something there to look forward to.”
Patton was quick to play down the suggestion that the Premier Division side will go into Sunday’s final as favourites.
“It was looking like we’d be in the same division next season. Thankfully we got the couple of results we needed at the end of the season and we’re staying up,” he said.
“But Ballybofey went unbeaten all season and even though it’s a while since they played, they’ve got the momentum going into the final.”
Former Finn Harps player, Shaun Wizard McGowan, has been one of the star men for Ballybofey this season. His father, Sean Wizard Snr., played on the cup final winning team in ‘79.
“It’s a lifetime since the club last won a cup, so obviously, we’d love to bring that long run to an end on Sunday,” McGowan said.
“There’s huge interest around the place ahead of the final and we’re really looking forward to it.”
The preparations for both clubs ahead of the final haven’t been helped by the fact that they have both been without a competitive fixture for a few weeks.
“We haven’t played in six weeks,” McGowan said.
“We’ve been training away, but we haven’t been able to organise any friendlies because the rest of the sides in the league are all finished up at this stage.”
McGowan will feature at centre half on Sunday, alongside Neil Lloyd who returns from suspension along with Rory Dunleavy. The team is managed by another former Harps man, Barney Lafferty with John Gregg as his assistant.
Dara Patton is assisted at Rathmullan by his work colleague at the Aura Leisure Centre in Letterkenny, Terry McCauley. The Seasiders will also be at full strength aside from Christopher ‘Chippy’ Barrett who will miss the game due to GAA commitments.
Sunday’s game at Dry Arch Park, Bonagee, kicks off at 2pm.