GAVIN CULLEN feels that his new-look Cockhill Celtic is getting better with each passing week.
Seven-in-a-row Ulster Senior League champions Cockhill are in New Balance FAI Intermediate Cup action on Sunday when they host Midleton of the Munster Senior League (kick-off 2pm).
Cockhill have had designs on a lasting run in this competition for several years now, but have yet to make a big impression.
“Any competition we enter, with the pool of players and the quality, you want to win them,” Cullen said.
“We believe we can win them. We’ve let ourselves down at times, we’ve got bad draws at other times, players maybe have been unavailable, but that happens in football and you have to deal with that.
“We have to do that in this competition and we have to do it one game at a time. It’s Midleton next and that’s what it’s all about.
“This team deserves to be among the best intermediate teams in Ireland. No-one has been consistently better or been as consistently successful over the last ten years.”
Cockhill overcame Bonagee United on Sunday, handing the Dry Arch Park men a first defeat of the season and also taking their own record to three wins from three in the League.
Cullen was energised by his side on Sunday.
He said: “We had a full overhaul in the summer. It’s very pleasing to get results after such a big change. It’s onwards and upwards now. It will be tough and will be very competitive this year. The games have all been tight so far and it’s all to play for.
“We had two young lads, Bradley Callaghan and Shane Anthony Doherty, who made his debut, and were excellent.
“That’s the benefit of having a strong reserve side and boys are training really well with us. They’re getting the rewards. This team will get better, no doubt.
“There is real quality in the boys we’ve brought in. These guys are looking to find their feet and show what they can do. Hopefully they’ll push on and get stronger – and if they do that, we’ll benefit.”
Another of the new faces, Stephen Duffy, netted the winner against Bonagee and has been
Cullen is hoping to welcome Harry Doherty, Laurence Toland and Lee McColgan back into some action for the weekend, while the experience of Malachy McDermott is close to be welcomed again.
Cockhill haven’t had too many national games at the Charlie O’Donnell Sports Grounds, but Sunday’s game offers them a chance to host a big crowd at home.
Cullen said: “We’ve been very unfortunate with the draw lately. We’ll take a home draw with open arms. They’ll be decent, but they won’t fancy coming up here. We’ll give it a really good go.
“We’ve beaten top teams at various stages. We have a handful of internationals now from the Regions Cup now, but is a new group and it’s hard to gauge. We still believe that we can give it a rattle.”
Midelton defeated Bonagee 4-1 in Donegal last year at this stage.
Bonagee are also in New Balance FAI Intermediate Cup action at the weekend. Jason Gibson’s team are at home to MSL opposition with Lakewood set to visit the Dry Arch on Saturday (kick-off 4pm). The Bonagee boss will welcome Sean Hume and Jordan Armstrong back from suspension.
In the bmcsports.ie Ulster Senior League on Sunday, Letterkenny Rovers host Fanad United at Leckview Park. Eamon McConigley’s Letterkenny can move within two points of early leaders Bonagee with a won.
Saturday, November 23, 4pm
FAI Intermediate Cup
Bonagee United v Lakewood
Sunday November 24, 2pm
FAI Intermediate Cup
Cockhill Celtic v Midleton
bmcsports.ie Ulster Senior League
Letterkenny Rovers v Fanad United