The destination of the Four Lanterns Ulster Senior League title will be decided this evening when Cockhill Celtic and Letterkenny Rovers joust in a play-off at Dry Arch Park in Bonagee.
Kick-off is at 7.30pm and patrons are being advised to arrive early with a huge crowd expected.
It is not the first time that the USL title will have been decided by a play-off. Indeed, both Letterkenny Rovers and Cockhill Celtic have lost titles in play-offs.
Three of the four previous play-offs were won by Fanad United in 1994, 2006 and 2011.
1994 – Fanad United 2 Finn Harps Reserves 1
What a tussle the 1993/94 Ulster Senior League was – on and off the field!
A four-way tie at the top saw Fanad United, Finn Harps Reserves, Letterkenny Rovers and Buncrana Hearts all level on points.
The four-way play-off didn’t get played until July after a boardroom wrangle surrounding on appeals against alleged ineligible players by Finn Harps Reserves.
In the semi-finals, Fanad overcame Letterkenny Rovers 2-0 with Kenny Harkin and John McFadden on target, while Stephen Travers’ hat-trick and a goal by Adrian Creane gave Harps a 4-2 win over Buncrana Hearts.
In the play-off, George Grier and Harkin netted as Fanad prevailed to win a sixth USL title with a 2-1 win over Harps, for whom Eamonn Sheridan scored.
2002 – Quigley’s Point Swifts 4 Letterkenny Rovers 0
QPS won their first USL title in comprehensive style as they defeated Letterkenny Rovers 4-0 at Maginn Park in a play-off.
Rovers won their final two matches of the season to force a play-off after the teams had drawn in Muff.
QPS raced into a two-goal lead inside of 12 minutes.
Gary Heaney opened the scoring with a header on four minutes and when Ronan Coyle thundered home from 25 yards it was a long way back for Rovers.
In the first minute of the second half, Shaun Harkin riffled home a third goal.
QPS could even afford to play the final 36 minutes with ten men after Harkin’s sending off.
Heaney completed the rout when he struck a fourth.
2006 – Kildrum Tigers 1 Fanad United 2 (after extra-time)
Fanad United (pictured above) had a mountain to climb – but scaled it in style.
Kildrum Tigers completed their League programme a whopping 21 points ahead of Fanad United, who had seven games remaining.
Ollie Horgan’s Fanad, bit-by-bit, chipped away at the deficit. Win after win saw them inch closer to Kildrum until finally they had drawn level with the St Johnston side.
Fanad forced a play-off, which was played before one of the biggest ever crowds to see an Ulster Senior League game.
At The Diamond Park in Ballyare, Kildrum hit the front on 32 minutes as former Fanad player Paul Lynch prodded home.
Fanad drew level in the 59th minute when Marty McAteer riffled past Gareth Wade and it was game on.
Normal time failed to throw up a winner and, so, the drama would continue into extra time.
There, McAteer netted the winner as a swerving attempt from wide on the left deceived Wade.
Ronan Coyle smacked against the crossbar for Kildrum late in the night but Fanad left with the title in tow.
2011 – Fanad United 1 Cockhill Celtic 0
Fanad United’s 14th USL crown was won via a play-off win over Cockhill Celtic in 2011.
Fanad salvaged a dramatic 3-2 win in the final game of the season to force the title race to a play-off.
In the 40th minute, Seamus ‘Coshia’ Friel rose to head home Denis Boyle’s corner and it proved to be the only goal of the game.
It meant a League Cup and League double for Fanad, who previously beat Cockhill in the League Cup final that season.
The likes of Kieran McLaughlin, Liam O’Donnell, Oisin McColgan, Jimmy Bradley, Gerry Gill, Paul McKinney, Mark Moran, Malachy McDermott and Derek Doherty played that afternoon and are still part of the Cockhill Celtic squad.