New season up and running in USL with League Cup

Letterkenny, Cockhill and Derry City Reserves the winners on opening weekend

Sports Reporter


Sports Reporter




Letterkenny Rovers pictured before their game against Bonagee Utd. on Sunday

There were 23 goals on the opening afternoon of action in the 2017/18 Ulster Senior League season with an action-packed day in the Donegal News Ulster Senior League cup with home wins for Letterkenny Rovers, Cockhill Celtic and Derry City Reserves.

Letterkenny Rovers 5 Bonagee United 3
Letterkenny Rovers overcame the challenge of Bonagee 5-3 in the opening game of the League Cup but made life very difficult for themselves in what was a madcap game in sodden conditions at Leckview Park. .
Rovers got off to a flying start and took the lead on 18 minutes when Pajo Rafferty was first to react to divert Sean McCarrons effort past hapless Bonagee netminder Marty McGinty and Rovers joy was doubled just minutes later as McCarron hit a sublime effort  from outside the box which curled into the bottom.
Rovers were full value for their lead having seeing earlier chances from Rafferty and Steve Okakpo-Emeka go close.
The game seemed to be over as a contest when Kevin McGrath neatly fired home after 25 minutes after neat work by Tristan Ferris and McCarron and Bonagees cause seemed to be lost when Mark Harkin received a red card just a minute after coming on as an an early sub for a challenge on Steve Okakpo-Emeka on 26 minutes.
Rovers exerted their authority at this stage and had chances through Rafferty and Chris Malseed while Matty Harkin came close for Bonagee but it was Rovers who made it 4-0 with the move of the game on 42 minutes which came when a classic move involving Malseed, Rafferty and McGrath ended with McGrath playing in McCarron and he hit an unstoppable shot across the bows of McGinty in the Bonagee goals.
The game should have been done and dusted but a seven minute period of madness either side of the break got Bonagee back to 4-3 and had Rovers questioning their credentials while Bonagee sensed a remarkable comeback in Tony O'Carroll’s first game in charge.
Matty Harkin on 43 and Jamie Lynagh in first half stoppage time scored from close range to remarkably cut the deficit to 4-2  before a long range deflected Michael Funston free kick somehow found the bottom corner of Rory Kellys goal to make it 4-3 on 48 minutes  and very much game on.
Rovers though settled and McGinty had to be alert to deny McCarron his hat-trick on 56 minutes while Malseed shot over but McCarron was not to be denied on 65 minutes when his first time effort flew past McGinty after some terrific spadework from sub Odhran McMacken.
Bonagee then had half chances through Daniel Stolarzyck and Funston again while Conor Tourish had to be alert to deny Deano Larkin with a last ditch tackle although Rovers had plenty of chances themselves but efforts from subs Brandon Manues and  the returning from injury Darren McElwaine along with chances for Malseed, Rafferty and McMacken all went abegging in the considerable downpour which enveloped Leckview Park.
Rovers happy to hear the final shrill of Michael Connollys whistle and manager Eamon McConigley delighted to get  his side off to winning ways and they know  a point at Finn Harps Reserves next week will be good enough for a semi final spot in the three team group while Bonagee still have a chance of qualifying if they beat Harps in a few weeks time
Letterkenny Rovers: Rory Kelly; Tristan Ferris (Ruairi Dennehy 62), Conor Tourish, Ryan Gildea, Chris Flanagan; Steve Okakpo-Emeka (Brandon Manues 80), Chris Malseed, Christy Connaghan, Kevin McGrath (Odhran McMacken 55); Pajo Rafferty, Sean McCarron (Darren McElwaine 77).
Bonagee United: Marty McGinty; Rory McCrossan, Caillin McLaughlin, Glenn Gallagher (Darren Hunter 63), Scott Rice; Aaron Wasson (Daniel Stolarczyk 68), Michael Funston, Jamie Lynagh (Jordan Rogers 81), Ciaran Daffan (Mark Harkin 24); Matty Harkin, Dean Larkin.
Referee: Michael Connolly.

Bonagee United pictured before Sunday's game at Leckview Park. 

Cockhill Celtic 8 Swilly Rovers 1
Cockhill started the defence of the league cup with a facile win against willing but limited opponents.
Cockhill were on top from the start and took the lead on 11 minutes when James Bradley played in Mark Coyle who slotted low past Jamie Blaney.
It was two-nil on 20 minutes when Ryan Varma's free kick from left was headed home by Peter Doherty at the back post.
Cockhill added a third four minutes later when Garbhan Friel converted from the spot after Paul McDermott was upended.
McDermott created the fourth just a minute later as his cross was headed in by Coyle.
William O’Connor was the architect of the fifth as his through ball fed Ronan Doherty, who slotted home.
And it was six at the break when Doherty riffled in from the edge of the box.
To their credit, Swilly regrouped and made it difficult for Cockhill in the second half with Conor Doogan, and Paul Clarke prominent.
On 55 minutes, Friel converted from close range following a defensive mixup to make it 7-0.
On 61 minutes, Swilly got the goal their second half performance deserved when Kennedy Boachie-Ansah coolly slotted past Cullen after being released by Marty McDaid.
Cockhill had the final say on 81 minutes when James Bradley intercepted a pass in midfield before advancing and firing past Blaney.

Cockhill Celtic, winners against Swilly Rovers. 

Derry City Reserves 4 Fanad United 2
Derry City Reserves twice came from behind to defeat Fanad United 4-2 in an entertaining Donegal News League Cup game in Templemore.
Fanad started the stronger and took the lead in the 10th minute when following a marauding run and cross by Keelin McElwaine, Darragh Black finished neatly inside the box. Fanad had a chance to extend the lead 10 minutes later but Kyle Black seen his shot fly just wide. Derry came back into the game and equalised 2 minutes before the break. After Fanad keeper Dane Dunworth made an outstanding block in the box but the rebound fell to Adam Taggart who finished into the bottom corner from the edge of the box. Fanad almost regained the lead immediately when Darragh Black sprung the offside trap only to see his lob over Derry keeper Houghton come back off the crossbar.
At the start of the second half Fanad missed a host of chances to regain the lead. Darragh Black in particular was unlucky after his superb turn and shot went inches wide.
Other chances fell to Kyle Black and Davitt Walsh. Fanad did eventually took the lead in the 75th minute when Matthew Crossan finished into the bottom corner from outside the box.
This goal spurred Derry into life and they equalised two minutes later. After a fine run down the right the ball was played into the box where Mickey Place made no mistake.
Ten minutes from time Derry took the lead when Michael Sweeney capitalised on a slip in the Fanad defence, to run clear and finish past a helpless Dunworth.
In the final minute Derry got their fourth in almost identical circumstances when Dylan Devine scored.
Derry City Reserves: Daniel Houghton, Jack Parke, Matty Doherty, Kieron Farren, Luke Campbell, Paul Doherty, James McIntyre, Adam Taggart, Stephen Duffy, Mickey Place, Matty Doherty.
Fanad United: Dane Dunworth, Conor Blaney, Oisin Langan, Martin McAteer, Matthew Crossan, Tony McNamee, Jordan Toland, Keelin McElwaine, Davitt Walsh, Darragh Black, Kyle Black.
Referee: Marty Quinn.


Donegal News Ulster Senior League Cup Group A
Cockhill Celtic 8 Swilly Rovers 1
Derry City Reserves 4 Fanad United 2

Donegal News Ulster Senior League Cup Group B
Letterkenny Rovers 5 Bonagee United 3


Sunday, September 10, 2pm

Donegal News Ulster Senior League Cup Group A
Fanad United v Cockhill Celtic
Swilly Rovers v Derry City Reserves

Donegal News Ulster Senior League Cup Group B
Finn Harps Reserves v Letterkenny Rovers