Cockhill Celtic 3 2 Bonagee Utd.
Fanad Utd. 1 1 Drumkeen Utd.
Finn Harps Res. P P Swilly Rovers
Letterkenny Rovers P P Derry City Res.
The 4 Lanterns Ulster Senior League kicked off on Sunday with two out of the four games beating the weather and going ahead. Champions Cockhill Celtic got their defence of the league crown off to a winning start, but only just over a well organised Bonagee Utd. outfit. Goals from top scorer Garbhan Friel (1) and a brace from Gerald McLaughlin were just enough to see off the Bonagee challenge by the narrowest of margins in a game in which they took the lead three times only for Aidan McLaughlin and Jamie Lynagh to pull Bonagee level on two occasions. In the end they managed to hold on for all three points and they will be delighted after hearing the final score from Traigh-a-Lough where last year’s runners-up, Drumkeen Utd. were held to a 1-1 draw by last year’s basement side, Fanad Utd. Indeed the men from the Kingdom took the lead through a Blaine Curtis penalty to go in ahead at the break before recent addition from Kildrum, Darren Cassidy levelled in the second period. Neither team could find a winner and with a share of the spoils a fair result, Drumkeen will know they can’t afford to let Cockhill get away from them even at this early stage if they are to try and claim a maiden league title in 2014.The other two matches fell victim to the weather despite Sunday being a good day with the rain that fell the previous two days over the weekend meaning a full programme could not be completed on the opening weekend.
Champions Begin With Win
Cockhill Celtic 3
Bonagee Utd. 2
Played in near perfect conditions, Cockhill had to rearrange their defence in the 1st minute following a bad tackle on Sennan Mc Colgan that resulted in the left back being carried off. Cockhill started the brighter and dominated from the off. The breakthrough came after 8 minutes following a great team move Gerry Gill teed up the in-form Garbhan Friel to rifle home from 15 yards. Bonagee in their 1st meaningful attack, after 17 minutes, equalized when a corner was flicked on at the front post, allowing Aidan Mc Laughlin to head into the Cockhill net from 5 yards. Cockhill regrouped and started to pin Bonagee back and they got their 2nd when Garbhan Friel fed Jazza Mc Laughlin to slot home from close range. Cockhill continued to push forward in search of the 3rd and on three separate occasions had efforts cleared off the line. The best being an overhead kick from William O’Connor. Half Time 2-1 Cockhill
Bonagee didn’t take long to draw level and in 48th minute following hesitant defending by Cockhill, Jimmy Lynagh burst through from defence to slot past Gavin Cullen in the home goal. The 2nd half was a more even affair and Bonagee made Cockhill work harder to create any real openings. Cockhill’s winning goal came in the 55th minute when Gerry Gill’s long cross was met by Jazza Mc Laughlin’s head. Bonagee threw more bodies forward in pursuit of an equalizer but the Cockhill’s defence held firm.
Fanad Hold Drumkeen
Fanad Utd. 1
Drumkeen Utd. 1
Fanad United and Drumkeen United settled for a share of the spoils in this opening Ulster Senior League match. Played in ideal conditions the match got off to a lively start with plenty of opportunities for both sides. On 4 minutes Darren McCready had a shot saved by Shane Graham in the Fanad goal and a minute later Blain Curtis shot over the bar when well-placed for Fanad. The clearest opportunity of the opening stages fell to Drumkeen’s Conor Carlin who latched on to a perfect through ball from Darren McCready only for Fanad keeper Graham to save bravely at his feet. On 15 minutes a deep cross by Blain Curtis was chested down by Oisin Hasset to Adam Serrinha who volleyed over the bar from 15 yards. Drumkeen had a few more half chances before Fanad took the lead on the stroke of half time. Following some pressure by Fanad, referee Vincent McLaughlin adjudged that Oisin Hasset had been fouled inside the box. Blain Curtis stepped up to give Stephen Conroy no chance and registered his first goal for the club.
Drumkeen started the 2nd half brightly and put Fanad under enormous pressure. This pressure was rewarded on 54 minutes when they equalised. After a succession of corners the found its way to Darren Cassidy who knocked a deep cross to the back post where it was met by Conor McNulty who headed into the top corner. The game was end to end with Drumkeen having the clearest chances. On 75 minutes former Fanad player Eunan Kelly headed against the cross bar when unmarked in the box. On 80 minutes Fanad substitute Conor Blaney hit a well struck shot from outside the box which Stephen Conroy done well to save at the second attempt. Overall Drumkeen will be less pleased with the result. It was good battling performance by Fanad against last season’s runners up. Best for Fanad were Shane Graham, Kevin Murray and Blain Curtis, for Drumkeen recent acquisitions Darren McCready and Darren Cassidy were best.
Fanad United: Shane Graham, Ronan Sweeney, (Caolan McDaid 56), Darren Nash, Declan Sweeney, Kevin Murray, Johnny Logue, Declan Curtis (Conor Blaney 75), Brian McVeigh, Blain Curtis, Oisin Hasset, Adam Serrinha (Keelin McElwaine 75)
Drumkeen United: Stephen Conroy, Michael Carroll, Benny Bonner, Conor McNulty, Paddy McLaughlin, Philip White, Darren Cassidy, Darren McCready, Eunan Kelly, David Shovlin and Conor Carlin
Ref: Vincent McLaughlin
Sunday, March 30th at 2pm unless stated
Bonagee Utd. v Fanad Utd (12 noon) Ref. P. Duddy
Cockhill Celtic v Finn Harps Res. Ref. V. McLaughlin
Drumkeen Utd. v Letterkenny Rovers Ref. P. Coll
Swilly Rovers v Derry City Res. Ref. S. Toner