BJ Banda and Letterkenny Rovers are riding high at the summit of the Four Lanterns Ulster Senior League thanks to eight straight League wins.
Banda has scored six League goals as Rovers have a six-point lead at the top.
Although Cockhill and Bonagee are behind Rovers on games played, the Cathedral Town men’s perfect start to the campaign has them as the side to catch.
Banda has taken superbly to his return to Rovers, having spent a couple of seasons at Finn Harps and the striker has been named as the Watson Menswear Player of the Month for November 2018.
“It’s good to get a bit of game time,” Banda says.
“I’m happy to set up at Rovers. It’s like I never left in the first place and it’s been good to get a few goals. I’ve started the season with a good, clean slate.
“It’s hard to adapt. It’s much slower than the League of Ireland, but I’m settling in pretty well.
“I’ve played with some of these players before and there are some new faces there as well. It’s a new experience and I’m happy that I’ve gelled in well.
“It’s good to be back.
“It’s just good to be back playing football, getting goals, playing minutes and enjoying myself again.”
Banda scored that memorable goal in 2015 to see Harps defeat Limerick and win promotion back to the Premier Division. A goal in an away win at Derry City followed in 2017, but Banda’s recent seasons at Harps proved frustrating.
However, he’s in the groove again since coming into the intermediate grade.
He says: “I’m in the right place at the right time. I have a great team around me, playing me in and all I have to do is finish them.”
Banda and Rovers have advanced to the last 16 in the FAI Intermediate Cup, but the stern challenge of Crumlin – who beat Rovers in the 2016 final at the Aviva – awaits in January.
Banda says: “Crumlin will be tough. We’ll need to train hard, dig deep and work hard.”
The Rovers hitman can feel a weight of urgency this season and is not surprised with the manner Eamon McConigley’s team burst out. A play-off loss denied them the League crown in June as Cockhill took it for the sixth successive term.
Banda says: “The boys were close in the last couple of years. It’s good to hit the ground running this year and hopefully we can take that into the new year.
“Some of the boys aren’t getting any younger. It’s now or never. We just have to work hard, put the work in and see what happens.”
They can cement their early-season form against derby foes Bonagee at Dry Arch Park on Saturday night. Last month, Banda hit the only goal of the game in a 1-0 win over Bonagee at Leckview.
He says: “Bonagee held us deep in Leckview Park a few weeks ago. We have to put in the hard work now. This is our last game before Christmas so we just have to empty the tank now.”Tags: