Bonagee United players celebrate after their USL League Cup final success against Letterkenny Rovers last September PICTURE: STEPHEN DOHERTY
It was way back at the beginning of last September when Bonagee United last played a competitive game - Garbhan Grant scoring twice in the dying minutes to give his team a memorable 3-2 USL League Cup final win over Letterkenny Rovers.
This weekend, Jason Gibson’s side finally return to action - they travel to play Maynooth University Town in the Qualifying Round of the FAI Senior Cup in what will be their first match in ten months.
It’s one of two ties involving Donegal clubs. Cockhill Celtic are also up against Leinster Senior League opposition on Saturday, they are away to St. Mochta’s in Dublin.
Given that the Leinster Senior League season got up and running last weekend, the two Donegal clubs find themselves at a disadvantage.
Gibson says the timing of the cup tie is not ideal, but his team have prepared quite well.
“It’s probably not ideal timing,” he admitted.
“We’re not going to get back into our own season until late August, maybe the beginning of September .
“But when you are in the FAI Senior Cup, you can’t look at it as a distraction, it’s a big game for the club so we’re happy to be in it.”
The Bonagee United side who lost out to College Corinthians in the FAI Intermediate Cup early last year. PICTURE: STEPHEN DOHERTY
Bonagee entered summer cup competitions in Derry and Letterkenny in order to get some game time and Gibson said those games have helped his players.
“At least you can get a competitive game which is better than a friendly,” he said.
“We had good three matches in a good competitive standard in Derry and we’ve entered the cup locally here at the Community Centre in Letterkenny too.
“We’ve had an in-house game and we had a friendly against Dergview on Tuesday night.
“It’s strange when you think that you don’t want to put the players into a full flowing pre-season because if it doesn’t go our way on Saturday, you are sitting seven or eight weeks out again from your next competitive match.”
Away from home against Leinster Senior League opposition wont be easy for either Cockhill or Bonagee and Gibson noted that both St. Mochta’s and Maynooth were among the leading sides in their division last season.
“But we have played in big matches in recent years and you’d hope you’ve enough players in the squad who know how to manage these games,” Gibson said.
“A lot of the time it is about game management, it’s about staying in the game and making yourself difficult to beat.”
Gibson has lost his experienced goalkeeper Eugene Ferry from last season while Ryan Rainey has moved to Finn Harps.
But there is plenty of talent within his panel, coupled with the experience of Packie Mailey who played against Dergview on Tuesday night, and Michael Funston who is also back for another campaign.
“It’s going to be difficult and they are going to have lots of quality, but we’re looking forward to it,” Gibson added.
Saturday’s game at the NUI Maynooth grounds will start at 2pm.
On the same afternoon, Cockhill meet St Mochta’s at Porterstown Road in Dublin at 4pm.
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