Fanad United have a chance to go to the top of the Four Lanterns Ulster Senior League this weekend.
The 14-time champions have undergone a rebirth and transformation all at once under Arthur Lynch and a home tie against basement boys Bonagee United gives them the opportunity to go to the summit.
While many feel Fanad are still on the rise and an emerging team, they showed their real worth with a 2-0 win over five-in-a-row champions Cockhill before Christmas.
The goals from Tony McNamee and Oisin McMenamin lifted the optimism around Traigh-A-Loch while a recent 6-1 away win at Derry City Reserves appeared to further fuel that feeling.
Former Finn Harps attackers McNamee and McMenamin have been key for Fanad this year with 15 League goals between them already (McNamee with eight and McMenamin with seven).
Their acquisition last summer and the return of late of Darragh Black gave a new dimension to Fanad, who have not won the title since 2011.
Derry City pipped them to the post in 2012, while Cockhill have won each of the last five.
But Fanad are firmly in the shake-up again with the likes of Oisin Langan, Matthew Crossan and Keelin McElwaine among the other central figures.
At the start of the season, Lynch outlined the reasoning for his additions.
“The players we have taken in are winners,” Lynch, who won multiple USL crowns as a player with Fanad, said back in August. “They want to compete and that’s the type of player we’re looking for.”
Lynch and Fanad might hope to stay on the coat-tails of Cockhill for a while, but the run of fixtures mean Fanad have a chance to get breathing space at the top. On Sunday-week, Fanad will host Swilly Rovers, joint bottom with Bonagee, while Cockhill are in Intermediate Cup action.
Cockhill have no game this Sunday, while Letterkenny Rovers are away to Finn Harps Reserves. This was a game that tripped up Eamon McConigley’s men last season as a 3-3 draw would come back to haunt them at the campaign’s end.
While Rovers have lost Sean McCarron to Institute, McConigley has added Paul McVeigh and Ryan McConnell to his ranks, although Finn Harps are reported to have offered left-back Lee Toland a contract.
Derry City Reserves will hope to get back on track following their heavy defeat to Fanad when they host Swilly Rovers. These sides are well acquainted with ex-Swilly youngsters Shane McNamee, Connor Gormley, Mikey Sweeney and Ronan Boyce now in the Candystripes.
Sunday, January 28, 2pm
Four Lanterns Ulster Senior League
Derry City Reserves v Swilly Rovers
Fanad United v Bonagee United
Finn Harps Reserves v Letterkenny Rovers