Ulster Senior League: Cockhill win top-of-the-table clash at Aura as Bonagee pip Harps

first_imgCOCKHILL Celtic opened up a nine-point gap at the top of the 4 Lanterns Ulster Senior League with a 2-1 win over title rivals Letterkenny Rovers, while Bonagee United overcame Finn Harps Reserves.Letterkenny Rovers 1 Cockhill Celtic 2Cockhill Celtic’s march to yet another League title took a giant step at the Aura Centre on Sunday afternoon when they emerged triumphant over second placed Letterkenny Rovers in a tough battle with the visitors taking the spoils. Gavin Cullen’s men went into this game having lost their first league game in 72 matches last Sunday to Swilly Rovers but were quick out of the blocks in this one and almost took the lead after just twenty seconds but Ronan Doherty saw his shot go narrowly wide.That was a warning shot across the bows for the home side and Cockhill forced a succession of early corners and they took the lead on three minutes when Gerry Gill’s expertly whipped effort came off the head of Rovers defender Paul Boyle and flew into the net.Rovers though came right back into the game and got the equaliser on 15 minutes from the penalty spot.Ryan Lonergan made a good run into the box and cut back inside and was adjudged to have been taken down by Gill and referee Paul Duddy had no hesitation in pointing to the spot much to the vehement protests of goalkeeper and Cockhill player/boss Gavin Cullen who was booked for dissent for his subsequent protests. The remainder of the half was a cut and thrust affair with Cockhills physicality posing problems for Rovers with both James Bradley and Friel coming close for the reigning champions with Rovers best chances coming when Christopher Flanagan was just wide with a header while Cullen did well to come out and smother a good chance for Steve Okakpo-Emeka as the halftime whistle loomed large on the horizon.The third goal was always going to be crucial and it came on 48 minutes when Rovers again were caught cold at the beginning of the half.Again it was Gill who whipped in a free kick after the tricky Ronan Olly Doherty was fouled and  he found Gerard McLaughlin and his looping header beat substitute goalkeeper Sean Friel much to the delight of the large visiting support.Letterkenny came into the game and looked more of a threat going forward and they should have levelled on 69 minutes when Okakpo-Emeka shot wide when he ought to have scored after Christy Connaghan cushioned a long ball from defence from Paul Boyle into his path.That could have been Rovers chance to get a point or act as a springboard for all three perhaps but it was  Friel –who was introduced on 32 minutes  in the home goal following an  ankle injury to Christopher Sweeney-  who did well to thwart efforts from Ryan Varma and Garbhan Friel on 72 and 73 minutes with chances at a premium for most of the remainder of the game in what was a trademark encounter between both sides which lacked some fluency due to a stop/start nature with some hefty challenges flying in as both sides showed 100 per cent commitment which maybe diluted the quality somewhat. Rovers did try and throw bodies forward near the end to try and salvage what they would have considered a deserved draw but chances were few and far between while the sending off for Garbhan Friel for a second yellow near the end did not dampen the spirits amongst the Cockhill entourage.Letterkenny travel to Bonagee next weekend while Cockhill are on the road again when they play Derry City Reserves.Letterkenny Rovers: Christopher Sweeney, Ryan Lonergan, Ryan Gildea, Paul Boyle, Conor Tourish, Christopher Flanagan, Paul McVeigh, Kevin McGrath, Darren McElwaine, Christy Connaghan, Steve Okakpo-Emeks. Subs: Sean Friel for Sweeney (32), Brian McVeigh for McGrath (71), Dean O’Donnell for Okakpo-Emeka (80)Cockhill Celtic: Gavin Cullen, Derek Doherty, Jason Breslin, Oisin McColgan, Peter Doherty, Gerard McLaughlin, Gerry Gill. Ryan Varma, Garbhan Friel, James Bradley, Ronan Doherty Referee: Paul DuddyBonagee 2 Finn Harps Reserves 1 A LATE penalty from influential midfielder Aiden McCauley proved the difference as Bonagee claimed all three points against a battling Harps reserves side in a entertaining USL fixture at Dry Arch Park.Due to ongoing work at Finn Park the match was reversed to Dry and it was the home side who were quickest out of the traps creating several early chances in the opening period of the game.Harps netminder Lee McCarron produced two great saves from Aidan McLaughlin and Jamie Lynagh respectively before Dean Larkin saw his free kick crash off the post when it looked like swerving in the bottom right hand corner.Bonagee, with McCauley dictating matter in midfield continued to create chances and Larkin saw another good effort go begging, on this occasion his shot narrowly shaving Harps left hand post.The young Harps side had been dangerous on the break without testing Wade but it was Bonagee who took the lead on 40 minutes – Aidan McLaughlin with a great cross finsihed by Lynagh who headed home.Wade was called into action just before half time punching clear a clever free kick by Sharkey.Whatever Joe Boyle said to his young charges at half time had the desired affect as Harps came out on the front foot creating several chances before leveling matters.Alex Carolan had replaced the injured former Bonagee man James Carolan as Harps centre forward and his pace was stretching the home rearguard.In the 54th minute an incisive Liam Walsh put Carolan through and he calmly slipped the ball past the advancing Wade to equalise for Harps.The confidence seemed to surge through Harps who enjoyed good spells of possession resulting in great chances for Neilis and Carolan once again.However Bonagee, urged on by manager Peter Moran, had no intention of giving up the ghost and looked to have equalised but Aidan McLaughlins finish was judged to be off-side.Despite another near miss for Harps from Darragh Ellison, the home side were not to be denied with McCauley slotting home from the penalty spot after he himself had been taken down.Bonagee: Wade, Breslin, Russell, McGarvey, Hunter, Lynagh, Stolarczyk, McCauley, McLaughlin, Larkin, O’Brien. Subs: De Cook, Rodgers, Moran, Coyle, O’Donnell.Finn Harps Reserves: McCarron, Brolly, Doherty, Kelly, Clifford, McGroary, McCreadie, Walsh, Neilis, Sharkey, James Carolan. Subs: Bell, Alex Carolan, Ellison, Finn, Rodgers, Ferry.Referee: Marty McGarrigle.RESULTSLetterkenny Rovers 1 Cockhill Celtic 2Finn Harps Reserves 1 Bonagee United 2FIXTURESSaturday, January 21, 8pmBonagee United v Letterkenny RoversSunday, January 22, 2pmDerry City Reserves v Cockhill CelticFinn Harps Reserves v Fanad UnitedUSLPWDLFAGDPTSCockhill Celtic971129101922Letterkenny Rovers93421816213Bonagee United8413915-613Fanad United83231411311Derry City Reserves83141914510Swilly Rovers81341022-126Finn Harps Reserves81251021-115TOP GOALSCORERS (League goals only)Cathal Farren (Derry City Reserves)          8Darren McElwaine (Letterkenny Rovers)  7Mark Moran (Cockhill Celtic)                       6Gerard McLaughlin (Cockhill Celtic)           4Aaron McCready (Finn Harps Reserves)    4Laurence Toland (Swilly Rovers)                4Aidan McLaughlin (Bonagee United)         3Jimmy Bradley (Cockhill Celtic)                   3William O’Connor (Cockhill Celtic)              3Max Karner (Derry City Reserves)             3Stephen Duffy (Derry City Reserves)         3Ulster Senior League: Cockhill win top-of-the-table clash at Aura as Bonagee pip Harps was last modified: January 15th, 2017 by Chris McNultyShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:Cockhill CelticLetterkenny RoversUlster Senior Leaguelast_img

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