06 Oct 2022

Jason Gibson says removal of an Intermediate Cup slot for USL is ‘poor form’

The troubled Ulster Senior League will have just one representative in the national phase of this season's FAI Intermediate Cup

Bonagee United handed tough route back to Senior Cup

Bonagee United's Dan O'Donnell puts in a challenge against Shelbourne. Photo: Thomas Gallagher

Bonagee United manager Jason Gibson has called as ‘poor form’ the Ulster Senior League receiving only one place in the national rounds of the 2022/23 FAI Intermediate Cup.

Following Monaghan United’s recent withdrawal from the USL, the Football Association of Ireland has removed one of the two allocated place for the Intermediate Cup.

Now, Bonagee must face Letterkenny Rovers on Saturday (Leckview Park, 5pm) with the winner advancing to meet Cockhill to determine who goes to the open rounds.

“The reason for it is representation numbers, but my argument to that is we had two teams in the last eight of the Intermediate Cup last season,” Gibson told Donegal Live.

Bonagee and Cockhill were quarter-finalists last season, Bonagee falling to a narrow loss away to Rockmount and Cockhill exiting after defeat to Bluebell United.

Last month, Bonagee hosted League of Ireland Premier Division side Shelbourne before a capacity crowd at Dry Arch Park in the second round of the FAI Senior Cup having obtained a passage to the senior competition thanks to their Intermediate run.

“This is probably reflective of the FAI’s view of the USL,” Gibson said. “I think it’s poor form, to be honest. Ourselves and Cockhill were in the senior cup this year and I felt that we could have had more representation. It will be difficult to get back to that stage again. The FAI could actually gave put the three teams out - which we called for - but that fell on deaf ears.

“It was unfortunate, but hardly surprising.”

Gibson recently took over as the chairman of the USL and the pitfalls now are obvious following Monaghan’s exit, after just one season.

“If you look at us having Shelbourne in Bonagee a couple of weeks ago, you come from that high into what could become a low again,” he said.

“We played Letterkenny last week in the League Cup and have them again. It sort of highlights the repetitive nature, which we all know. The games themselves are good spectacles and good tests, but the repetitiveness is the downside. Let’s call a spade a spade: Our teams are fed up looking at each other. We have to just go and do our best now and see where it takes us.”

A late Micheál Doherty goal secured a 3-2 win for Bonagee at Leckview at the weekend. Danny McConnell’s new-look Rovers, with the likes of new signings Mark Anthony McGinley, Johnny Robb and Shane Porter in tow, put up a stern test and Gibson expects similar this week.

“I thought we done quite well on Saturday when you take into account the players we were missing,” he said. “It will be difficult again this week. We were the better side, I felt, in the first half and could have been further ahead. In the end, we had to scrap it out to get a late winner.”

Jack Parke returns from international duty with the Republic of Ireland amateur side, Jamie Lynagh is available again and Tony McNamee could be ‘involved in some capacity. Gareth Breslin remains on Bonagee’s absent list and is likely to face another month on the sidelines.

Gibson has elevated the likes of Noah Barrett and Dylan McAteer from the Donegal Youth League winning squad lately.

“The intention is that they will be involved over the season,” Gibson said. “We have a side that won the Youth League and we need to reward them. Some will be in and around my squad, some will be in the Donegal League squad and some will be around both. Their attitude has been excellent and that’s why they’re getting their head now.”

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