First half goals guide magnificent Cockhill Celtic to USL glory

Eighth title in-a-row for Gavin Cullen's side

Cockhill win league title

Cockhill Celtic celebrate with the league trophy on Sunday afternoon PICTURE: STEPHEN DOHERTY

There were no slip-ups from Cockhill Celtic whose dominance in the Ulster Senior League shows little sign of abating as they clinched a magnificent eighth league title in a row on Sunday.

Bonagee United . . . 1

Cockhill Celtic . . . 2

Going into their meeting with Bonagee United at Dry Arch Park, Cockhill knew that a draw would be enough to win the league

But in typical Cockhill fashion, they clocked up another victory with a controlled and quality display.

That said, Bonagee at times, made it an uncomfortable afternoon for Gavin Cullen’s side.

And when Bonagee substitute Dylan McCroary scored with 14 minutes to play to make it 2-1, Cockhill had to dig deep to ensure they wouldn’t concede again.

In the end, they saw the game out without much difficulty to seal the deal.

Their two goals came in a first half when with the aid of a stiff breeze, Cockhill were the better side.

They created some decent openings before their opening goal arrived on 23 minutes. Adam Duffy timed his run to perfection to race through on goal and while his shot was well saved by Eugene Ferry, Duffy got on the rebound and fed Christopher McLaughlin to score.

McLaughlin - signed from Glengad United  - had a brilliant game wide on the left. He fits perfectly into Cockhill’s system and even when he switched to the opposite flank for the second half, he looked a real threat.

Cockhill’s second goal came just after the half hour. This time it was Jimmy Bradley who finished well, latching onto a loose ball in the box when Lee McColgan’s effort was partly blocked.

Bonagee offered little threat coming forward. But that all changed in the second half - thanks in the main to a double substitution, and Jason Gibson’s decision to move Michael Funston from right back to the right side of midfield.

The former Harps favourite was much more involved and twice he set up Ryan Rainey for half chances in the opening stages of the half. At the other end, a brilliant point-blank stop from Ferry denied Adam Duffy a third for the visitors.

But Bonagee were much better and substitute McCroary - only minutes after his introduction - got them back in the game when he stroked the ball home after Peter Carr had charged down an attempted clearance from Gavin Cullen.

Despite the set-back, Cockhill showed no signs of any panic and they were able to introduce some fresh legs from the bench to settle things.

Aside from a late Rainey free that was comfortably dealt with, the visitors were able to ease to victory and yet another Ulster Senior League crown.

Bonagee United: Eugene Ferry, Michael Funston, Jamie Lynagh, Gareth Breslin, Mark Harkin, Sean Hume, Peter Carr, Daniel O’Donnell (Dean Larkin 45), Garbhan Grant (Dylan McCroary 72), Ryan Rainey, Mícheál Doherty (Duncan Patterson 45).

Cockhill Celtic: Gavin Cullen, Keegan Hegarty (Michael Noone 87), Lee McColgan, Jason Breslin (Malachy McDermott 66) , Oisin McColgan, Ronan Doherty (Stephen Duffy 66), Laurence Toland (Mark Moran 66), Bradley Callaghan, Adam Duffy (Daniel Doherty 87), Jimmy Bradley, Christopher McLaughlin.

Referee: Michael Connolly.

Assistants: Marty McGarrigle, Paddy Martin.

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