The race for the Four Lanterns Ulster Senior League has gone to the final week of the season as Letterkenny Rovers defeated Fanad United and Cockhill Celtic lost to Derry City Reserves.
Letterkenny Rovers 2 Fanad United 1
Letterkenny Rovers title hopes are still very much alive after a dramatic late goal from Paul McVeigh against his former club saw Rovers defeat Fanad Utd 2-1 at Leckview Park on Sunday afternoon.
On a day when the title could have been won by Cockhill the win for Rovers coupled with a win for Derry City Reserves at Cockhill means the title race will go down to the last week but its still advantage Cockhill as they have two games left while Rovers meet Cockhill next Sunday in their one remaining game.
It was a dramatic finish but an equally explosive start as the home side took the lead on 7 minutes. A well worked move saw a super cross from Ryan McConnell met by Christy Connaghan and his bullet header gave Fanad netminder Eoghan Jordan no chance.
Fanad though were level just 6 minutes later when Donegal Youth League player of the year Darren McElwaine won possession before feeding Paul Bradley and he fed Oisin McMenamin who hit an unstoppable effort past Rory Kelly in the Rovers goal.
McConnell then tried his luck from distance while Jordan was at his best to deny Kevin McGrath whose deft flick from a Ryan Lonergan assist looked goalbound.
Fanad though were causing problems for the Rovers attack with the former Rovers man McMenamin particularly lively and Conor Tourish denied him with a last ditch tackle on 23 minutes while McMenamin will believe he should have done better on 42 minutes when teed up by Bradley.
A highly experienced Fanad side were quicker out of the blocks in the 2nd period and Rory Kelly had to be alert to deny Keelin McElwaine on 51 minutes when he looked set to score after cutting in from the right but in truth chances were at a premium for most of the 2nd half.
The game did burst into life with 15 minutes to go and McGrath should have scored on 75 minutes after some good work from the highly impressive Steve Okakpo-Emeka who came on as a substitute but his effort was smothered while Okakpo-Emeka shot wide from an acute angle on 79 minutes.
Rovers though knew they had to win to keep hopes alive and got the all important lead goal on 84 minutes.
Rovers did well to win possession and Christy Connaghan sent McGrath through and he slipped the ball to McVeigh who cut inside before shooting low with a well placed effort to the corner.
Rovers though had to contend with a Fanad side who looked dangerous throughout and threatened on a number of occasions and came closest through McMenamin who brought another top drawer double save from Kelly late on which ensured Rovers gain a highly valuable win in the context of the league race.
Letterkenny Rovers: Rory Kelly, Kevin McGrath, Ryan Gildea, Ryan McConnell, Conor Tourish, Ryan Lonergan, Paul McVeigh, Chris Malseed, Declan Sharkey, Christy Connaghan, Garbhan Grant. Subs: Christopher Flanagan for Gildea (49), Steve Okakpo-Emeka for Grant (68), Odhran McMacken for Sharkey (80)
Fanad United: Eoghan Jordan, Keelin McElwaine, Matty Crossan, Seamy Friel, Shaun McElwaine, Marty McAteer, Paul Bradley, Darren McElwaine, Davitt Walsh, Oisin McMenamin, Oisin Langan. Subs: James Kerr for McAteer (88).
Referee: Vincent McLoughlin
Cockhill Celtic 0 Fanad United 1
A strong Derry side opened up the USL title race with a good victory in Cockhill.
The first half was an even affair with clear chances at a premium. On 5mins Gerry Gill almost capitalised on a scuffed Derry clearance but his goal bound effort was saved by Eric Grimes.
On 15mins Laurence Toland gained possession after Cockhill pressed high. He released Gerard McLaughlin on the left side of the box who dragged his effort wide.
Derry were dangerous too and nearly broke the deadlock on 24mins when Rhys McDermott made ground on the right. He found Shane McNamee who fired wide. McDermott was again prominent on 29mins.
This time he released Adrian Delap on the right. His pullback looked like giving Cathal Farren a tap in before Paul McDermott intervened with a saving tackle.
Cockhill started the second half with purpose but were out of luck on 51mins. Mark Moran’s cross from the left was cleared to the edge of the box.
Gerry Gill was on hand to smash an effort off the bar which was cleared for a corner. The resultant corner was clawed behind by Grimes. The second corner was headed clear and picked up by Ronan Doherty whose effort hit the bar and bounced down and out.
Derry continued to play and made the most of this escape when they hit the front on 66mins. Finn McClure’s cross from the left was flicked home by Cathal Farren.
There was controversy on 73mins when Paul McDermott rode a tackle on the edge of the box and advanced into the box. McDermott appeared to be fouled in the box but while Cockhill appealed for a penalty, a free kick was given for the first offence.
Gill’s free kick was comfortably saved by Grimes who was not unduly troubled for the remainder of the game while Derry remained dangerous on the break and held on comfortably for victory.
Wednesday, May 23, 7pm
Finn Harps Reserves v Bonagee United
Cockhill Celtic v Derry City Reserves
Sunday, May 27, 2pm
Letterkenny Rovers v Cockhill Celtic
Swiilly Rovers v Fanad United