Cockhill Celtic have reigned supreme in the Ulster Senior League
Sunday's 3-2 defeat by Swilly Rovers at the Charlie O’Donnell Sports Grounds brought to an end a remarkable unbeaten sequence in the 4 Lanterns Ulster Senior League for Cockhill Celtic.
You have to wind the clock all the way back to July 15th 2012 – or 1,638 days – to find the last occasion on which Cockhill lost a game in the League.
That was in a 1-0 home loss to Letterkenny Rovers when Davitt Walsh netted the only goal of the game.
Since then, Cockhill have reigned supreme.
They might have finished six points behind Derry City in the 2012 campaign, but they were unbeaten over the final eleven games of the season.
In each of the last four campaigns, Cockhill have been unbeaten over the entire term (16, 14, 8 and 15 games respectively) while they hadn’t tasted defeat in the opening seven games of this season.
It means that Sunday’s loss was their first defeat in some 72 matches in the Four Lanterns Ulster Senior League; with a brace by Laurence Toland and a goal from Tony McNamee giving Swilly the win.
“It was some record and it was a disastrous way for us to lose it,” says the Cockhill player-manager Gavin Cullen who, having signed back for Cockhill in January 2013 from Coleraine, tasted defeat for the first time in league football since returning to the club.
“It was a very disappointing performance and result. We gave away terrible goals and the game was littered with poor play, bad decision making, mistakes and poor finishing.
“Even at that, we still had 15 to 20 chances in the game, we had a couple cleared off the line, missed open goals and hit the post – but in all honesty we got what we deserved.
“Swilly worked harder and just wanted it more. They deserved the result, fair play to them.”
The result on Sunday breathed new life into the title race. Letterkenny Rovers’ 3-1 win over Fanad on Sunday means that this Sunday’s meeting of Letterkenny and Cockhill at the Aura Leisure Centre has taken on a whole new meaning, with Rovers trailing Cockhill, defending champions and leaders, by just six points.
Cullen said: “I still believe that there is a long way to go and I said it before Christmas that things will change because teams in this league can all beat each other as Sunday proved.
“Games between ourselves and Letterkenny have always been tight and I don't expect Sunday’s game to be any different.
“Probably the result on Sunday has maybe given other teams a boost but I believe we have the character to bounce back on Sunday. We know that we’ll be in for a tough game though.”