The action in the Ulster Senior League this week once again focuses on the Donegal News League Cup.
In Group B holders Fanad United can rubber-stamp their passport to the semi-finals with a victory over rivals Swilly Rovers next Monday evening at Triaghalough. They will likely be joined by Letterkenny Rovers if the Cathedral Town men can repeat their Knockalla Cup win of a few weeks ago against the visiting Buncrana Hearts. Group A is shaping up into a Group of Death with all five teams still in contention to qualify for this year’s semi-finals.
All the Group A action this week takes place on Sunday. Derry City will hope to put one foot into the semi-finals with a home victory over Bonagee United. They defeated Kildrum Tigers 2-1 away last week, who had been on a good run of form. Kevin Barr and Matthew Henry got the goals on that occasion.
Bonagee played out a 2-2 draw with near neighbours Drumkeen United first time out and after having a weekend off last week will be looking to get into the thick of what is shaping up to be a very tight group. Both teams like to get the ball down and pass it so a good open game is in prospect.
In the other Group A clash, draw specialists Drumkeen will take on fellow FAI Cup second round qualifiers Kildrum Tigers at St Patrick’s Park for the second time in less than two weeks. The sides met last week in a midweek Knockalla Cup game that went all the way to penalties before the St Johnston men punched their ticket to the quarter-finals.
After a good draw last week against Cockhill after going 2-0 down shortly after half-time, Drumkeen will look to continue their good home form against Raymond McDaid’s shell shocked Tigers outfit.
If Benny Bonner and Shaunie Gallagher can keep tabs on Ronan Coyle we could see yet another share of the spoils in this one – a result perhaps that will suit the idle Cockhill more than these two teams. A win for McDaid’s team would see them take a huge step towards the semi-finals and leave their fate in their own hands going into their final game against Bonagee. In Group B on Sunday, Letterkenny Rovers will play host to Buncrana Hearts at Leckview Park. These two sides met just three weeks ago at Castle Park with the visiting Rovers running out comfortable 4-1 winners in that Knockalla Cup clash. Rovers drew 3-3 with Fanad in their first game in this season’s Donegal News League Cup game last week and a win here coupled with a Fanad win over Swilly next Monday would see old foes Letterkenny and Fanad both progress.
Hearts have been showing signs of improvement in recent weeks since that defeat to Rovers and claimed their first win of the new season last week against Swilly Rovers. A win at Leckview will give them a good chance of reaching the semi-finals and you can never rule the Buncrana men out as they love nothing better than playing spoiler. If the Hearts can get a lead they could be a hard nut to crack, but the home side look like favourites to seal a place in the last four.
Holders Fanad will take on Swilly on Monday night where a win will see them into the last four yet again. Manager Ollie Horgan missed last week’s pulsating draw at Leckview and he will be anxious to tighten up the back line this time out after losing a 3-1 lead last week against Letterkenny. Alan Gethins and Eunan Kelly have been in fine form up front and with Swilly yet to win so far in this year’s campaign they will hope to add to their goal tallies on Monday. Jason Gibson’s team are off to a slow start and were beaten 2-0 last week in Buncrana. That defeat looks to have put paid to any hopes the Ramelton men may have had of reaching this year’s knock-out stages after not fielding against Letterkenny in their opening game.
Swilly plans sufferd an early blow this season when Gareth Wade was given a ban by the Inishowen League which must be served. Jason Gibson will look for a good performance from his team to prepare them for a league campaign where they will hope to breach the top five in this year’s table.
Derry City v Bonagee United (T McAree)
Drumkeen United v Kildrum Tigers (C McLaughlin)
Letterkenny Rovers v Buncrana Hearts (P Coll)
Fanad United v Swilly Rovers (D McCafferty)