COCKHILL Celtic player-manager Gavin Cullen knows there is a huge prize at stake on Sunday when he takes his men to Cork for a New Balance FAI Intermediate Cup replay.
By Chris McNulty, USL PRO
Cockhill face Munster Senior League side Midleton on Sunday morning at 11.30.
The winner will get a home draw agains Kilnamanagh from Dublin in early 2020 in a last 16 tie. For the winner of this weekend’s replay, there will also be a place in the first round of the 2020 FAI Senior Cup.
“There is a huge prize, but that’s where this club should be every season,” Cullen said.
“It’s hard to get out of the Ulster region never mind doing anything at national level. Our clubs here are good enough to be at that level.”
Stephen Duffy rescued a draw for Cockhill on 68 minutes after James McCarty put Midleton in front after only eight minutes.
Cockhill had been well on top, but were unable to find a winner during what became a controversial conclusion.
Now, the reigning USL champions are on the road as they look to topple the MSL outfit on their home turf.
Cullen said: “They’re a very good side. The first half was very, very even. We were excellent in the second half.
“Being away from home is a different kettle of fish. Everything from travel, knowing the pitch, a wee refereeing decision….that went against us last weekend.”
Cullen has introduced several of the club’s young guns into the mix lately, but last Sunday, during the 0-0 draw with Letterkenny Rovers, he was able to bring Laurence Toland, Mark Moran and Adam Duffy off the bench.
That trio are sure to be in line for a start this weekend, while Cullen is also actively pursuing new blood. Aaron McColgan is off to Australia in January while he may bid farewell to others.
For now, his main concern is this weekend.
He said: “It’s a huge game.
“We have a huge task in the replay. We’ll prepare as best we can. We have a couple of men missing because they had pre-arranged bookings and the is just the way things happen and you have to deal with. We’ll see what we have – but we’ll certainly go down there and give it a go.”
Sunday’s clean sheet was their third in four League outings so far and Cullen hailed his rearguard.
He said: “Since I have come here, we have the best defensive record in the League. We’re very consistent in that regard and it’s the main reason that we’ve been so successful.
Even on Sunday, Letterkenny dominated the game and could have won by two or three, but we didn’t concede a goal so we have to be happy with the point.”
KNOCKALLA CARAVANS SENIOR CUP
THERE are quarter-final ties in the Knockalla Caravans Senior Cup down for decision this weekend.
Owing to Cockhill’s involvement in the FAI Intermediate Cup, their scheduled Knockalla Cup game against Glengad United has been postponed.
Knockalla Cup holders Bonagee United will host Finn Harps Reserves on Friday evening in the first of the quarter-finals. Bonagee overcame Glengad last season in the final to win silverware in Jason Gibson’s maiden season as manager at Dry Arch Park,
Also on Friday evening, Derry City Reserves host Milford United in an outstanding game from the previous round of the competition. There is no rest for the winner of that fixture, however, as they will be at home to Kildrum Tigers on Sunday.
In another all-USL quarter-final on Sunday, Letterkenny Rovers welcome Fanad United to Leckview Park.