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28 May 2022

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Cups in full focus as Jason Gibson takes aim at silverware

The semi-finals of the Donegal News USL League Cup take place this weekend

Bonagee United 2021/22

The Bonagee United USL squad.

It’s a sure sign of a promising season that Jason Gibson’s Bonagee United are still contesting in five cup competitions.

Bonagee host Derry City Reserves at Dry Arch Park on Thursday night in a semi-final of the Donegal News USL League Cup (8pm).

Bonagee are still in the Knockalla Caravans Senior Cup, North West of Ulster Intermediate Cup, FAI Intermediate Cup and FAI Senior Cup.

Cockhill Celtic, the eight-in-a-row champions have regained control of the League and Gibson is realistic in his assessment.

“We’re looking at the League campaign and we’re probably depending on Cockhill dropping points,” he says.

“By the looks of it at the minute, unfortunately, that’s not going happen. We have the likes of these Cups to try and get some silverware.

“We have loads of things to focus on. We’re sitting in March and we’ve only lost two games all season. You’d have hoped that Cockhill would’ve dropped points elsewhere.

“We’re in five Cups. You could end up winning a couple of those, but the League is the one we did want.

“It’s not that we’re giving up on the League, but we see it’s a massive challenge.

“Football being football, you just never know can happen. Freak results do happen - and that’s really what we need.”

Bonagee will be without the hamstrung Mark Harkin while Daragh Ellison is unavailable due to college commitments. Elsewhere, Gibson is at full strength.

Under Gibson’s management, Bonagee have won the Knockalla Caravans Senior Cup and the USL League Cup.

“The focus changed after winning those Cups and that shows both where we’ve come from and come to,” the Bonagee boss says.

“With Covid, we didn’t get the Knockalla and the North West Cups started as early as we might’ve liked so they’re all thrown in. I don’t remember the last time we played in the League and I’m not sure when we’ll play again, which isn’t ideal.”

Derry will arrive at Dry Arch Park as something of a peculiar unknown quantity. The combination of the underage sides and the potential sprinkling of fringe senior players makes second-guessing their line-up a futile exercise.

“Derry have reshuffled the pack in their management with Mo Mahon and Donal O’Brien now in charge of the under-19s,” Gibson notes.

“They’ve had an influx of players which means you could be facing an entirely different team to what we’d have played earlier in the season. It can be difficult to play a team like this. The games against Derry City and Finn Harps are unpredictable. They just go out and play and that can be dangerous.”

Cockhill Celtic welcome Monaghan United to the Charlie O’Donnell Sports Grounds on Saturday afternoon in the second semi-final.

Donegal News USL League Cup Semi-Finals


Thursday, March 10, 8pm

Bonagee United v Derry City Reserves


Saturday, March 12, 2pm

Cockhill Celtic v Monaghan United

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