Cockhill Celtic captain Jimmy Bradley receives the Four Lanterns Ulster Senior League trophy from Oran Grimes of the Four Lanterns. Photo: Stephen Doherty.
They’ve been the dominant force in Intermediate football in Donegal for some time, and on Wednesday night, Cockhill Celtic clinched a sixth success Ulster Senior League title with a thoroughly deserved play-off win over Letterkenny Rovers.
Cockhill Celtic . . . 2
Letterkenny Rovers . . . 0
Cockhill stuttered through their final series of games, allowing Letterkenny back into the title race. However, in this league title play-off, they produced a big performance when it mattered.
Goals from Ronan Doherty on 30 minutes and Laurence Toland on 61 sealed a memorable win for the Inishowen men. They also had the luxury of a missed penalty when Rory Kelly saved well from Mark Moran’s spot-kick.
But Letterkenny just didn’t get going on a night when Cockhill produced a well organised and competent display in front of a big Dry Arch Park crowd.
Doherty’s opener on the half hour came after Cockhill had shaded the first half. They won a throw-in in their right back area and when Gerry Gill was fed possession, his long, raking pass from deep picked out the run of Ronan Doherty who finished past Rory Kelly.
Rovers, a goal down at the break, started the second half well and they almost drew level on the hour when Cillian Morrison’s cross from the left was met by Kevin McGrath’s flashing header but Gavin Cullen produced a great save.
Within a minute, substitute Laurence Toland took advantage of a terrible error at the back from Letterkenny, to squeeze the ball home from a narrow angle.
Toland, who scored twice when he came off the bench in Saturday night’s League Cup final against the same opposition, then won his team a penalty when he got to the ball just ahead of Kelly before going down under the keeper’s challenge.
The Rovers goalkeeper however, redeemed himself with a fine save from Mark Moran’s penalty.
Letterkenny however, just couldn’t find a way back into the contest and with Peter Doherty and Oisin McColgan really impressive at the back, and Gerry Gill catching the eye in midfield, Gavin Cullen’s side eased to victory.
For Letterkenny, it was not to be. They did really well to get back into the title race and force a play-off. But despite their best efforts, they just weren’t a match for a Cockhill side who round off another great season with a league and cup double success.
Cockhill Celtic: Gavin Cullen, Marty Doherty (Ryan Kelly 68), Jason Breslin, Peter Doherty, Oisin McColgan, Liam O’Donnell (Jimmy Bradley 78), Malachy McDermott, Gerry Gill, Gerard McLaughlin (Laurence Toland 59), Mark Moran (Paul McKinney 87), Ronan Doherty.
Letterkenny Rovers: Rory Kelly, Ryan Lonergan, Chris Flanagan, Ryan McConnell, Ryan Gildea (Odhran McMacken 71), Chris Malseed, Kevin McGrath, Cillian Morrison (Garbhan Grant 78), Darren McElwaine (Steve Okakpu Emeka 67), Christy Connaghan (Brian McVeigh 67) Paul McVeigh.
Referee: Garvan Taggart.
Assistants: Vincent McLaughlin, Packie Coll.