Cockhill Celtic gained a big advantage at the top of the Four Lanterns Ulster Senior League as Malachy McDermott’s late goal saw them overcome title foes Letterkenny Rovers on Easter Monday at the Charlie O’Donnell Sports Grounds.
There were also big Bank Holiday wins for Fanad United and Finn Harps Reserves.
Cockhill Celtic 1
Letterkenny Rovers 0
Cockhill took a big step to retaining their title by claiming all 3 points in a tense scrappy affair.
Cockhill started the match on the front foot and forced a succession of corners one of which fell to Malachy McDermott whose shot was well blocked by Ryan Gildea.
The game went through a scrappy phase with a lot of restarts, both teams being hampered by the blustery conditions.
On 23mins Letterkenny threatened for the first time when Luke Nelis' pass found Darren McElwaine whose attempted chip drifted wide.
On 38mins, after a sustained period of pressure, Cockhill went close when McDermott's cross was headed clear by Ryan McConnell. It dropped to Laurence Toland whose touch was heavy and he fired over.
On the stroke of half time Letterkenny had their best chance of the game. The ball was shifted from left to right in a good passage of play, the ball finding Kevin McGrath who blazed wide.
Cockhill were awarded a penalty on 51mins when McDermott played in Marty Doherty who was upended giving the officials an easy decision. However the normally reliable Gerry Gill was denied by a fine save from Rory Kelly diving to his right to palm away.
Letterkenny were buoyed by this and had their best period of the game but failed to force Lee McCarron into a meaningful save. The closest they came was when substitute Garbhan Grant cut inside from the left but his shot was well blocked by Ryan Varma who was quietly having a big influence on the game.
Just as it looked like the game was destined to be scoreless, Cockhill made the breakthrough. Gill's 83rd minute corner headed in at the back post by Malachy McDermott.
Cockhill held on with the minimum of fuss for a vital result.
Fanad United 4
Derry City Reserves 0
Fanad United kept up their good recent league form with a 4-0 victory over Derry City Reserves on Monday at Traigh-a-Loch. Credit has to go to both teams for playing some very decent football in what were horrendous conditions.
Fanad played with the aid of the wind int he first half and attacked from the off. In the 5th minute Derry keeper Jason McCallion was penalised for picking the ball up twice and Fanad were awarded an indirect free kick. Marty McAteer touched the ball to Tony McNamee who blasted the ball high into the net.
Three minutes later Davitt Walsh hit a fine strike form 20 yards which McCallion did very well to palm away.
McCallion was called into action again in the 15th minute when he made two outstanding saves in quick succession to deny Oisin McMenamin and Paddy Carr.
Fanad did get their second in the 20th minute when Oisin McMenamin surged into the box he laid the ball back to Tony McNamee who scored from six yards out.
Oisin McMenamin got on the score sheet himself on the half hour mark when he fired home after a free kick was headed back across goal. Fanad got their fourth in the 35th minute when Shaun McElwaine rose highest in the box to head home a Conor Blaney corner.
The second half didn't create many chances for either side as the conditions worsened. Five minutes into the half Derry did have a chance to get a goal back when Conor Porter shot wide when well placed.
With 10 minutes remaining Oisin McMenamin did miss an opportunity to extend the score but after rounding the keeper he ran the ball just too far wide. With time running out Shane McNamee cracked a superb shot off the crossbar from 30 yards with Eoghan Jordan stranded.
Fanad United: Dane Dunworth, Keelin McElwaine, Conor Blaney, Shaun McElwaine, Oisin Langan, Caolan Kelly, Patrick Carr, Davitt Walsh, Marty McAteer, Tony McNamee, Oisin McMenamin. Subs Used: Eoghan Jordan, James Kerr, Darragh Black.
Derry City Reserves: Jason McCallion, Rhys McDermott, Luke Campbell, Ethan Harkin, Lee McColgan, Conor Gormley, Kian McGarvey, Shane McNamee, Adrian Delap, Kieran Farren, Matt Doherty. Subs Used: Calum Boyce, Conor Porter, Ronan McKinley, Danny McGlynn
Referee: Michael Connolly
Swilly Rovers 0
Finn Harps Reserves 7
Finn Harps Reserves proved much too strong for Swilly Rovers on Bank Holiday Monday as Joe Boyle’s men roared into a five-goal lead by the break when they could comfortably remove their feet from the gas.
Finn Harps went ahead on seven minutes when Dean O’Donnell’s cross-cum-shot sailed into the net.
Niall McGinley with a penalty made it two-nil on ten minutes following a foul in the box.
Daniel Stolarczyk with a superb free kick made it three on 15 minutes and Stephen Doherty made it four.
Daniel Stolarczyk hammered him to make it five in a very one-sided first half.
Keelan McGill headed home following a corner to make it six and Jamie Brown made it seven from close range
Swilly: Ben Boyle, Ciaran McHugh, Shaun Crossan, Conor Duggan, Rory McCrossan, Matthew McLaughlin, Ryan McDaid, Brad Patterson, Finnian O'Donnell, Marty McDiad, Oran Brogan. Subs: Duncan Patterson, Paul Clarke, Tony Gallagher, Jordan Nugent.
Finn Harps Reserves: Jamie Bell, Jamie Brown, Pat Loughrey, Keelen McGill, Keenan Diver, Stephen Doherty, Zak Brolly, Niall McGinley, James Carolyn, Daniel Stolarczyk, Dean O'Donnell. Subs: Michael Gallagher, Joe Boyle, Michael Doherty.
Referee: Benny Mc Daid.
Four Lanterns Ulster Senior League
Monday, April 2
Cockhill Celtic 0 Letterkenny Rovers 1
Fanad United 4 Derry City Reserves 0
Swilly Rovers 0 Finn Harps Reserves 7
Four Lanterns Ulster Senior League
Sunday, April 8, 2pm
Cockhill Celtic v Swilly Rovers
FAI New Balance Intermediate Cup semi-final replay
Sunday, April 8, 2pm
Firhouse Clover v Letterkenny Rovers