Ulster Senior League Cup Final
Cockhill Celtic 1, Derry City Reserves 0
Captain Jimmy Bradley scored the only goal of the game as Cockhill Celtic defeated Derry City Reserves in the Ulster Senior League Cup final at Dry Arch Park on Sunday.
Cockhill hit the winner in the 41st minute with a now-customary set-piece goal. Gerry Gill floated over a corner from the right, Peter Doherty nodded back into the crowded goalmouth and Bradley fired high past Eric Grimes.
Cockhill had played second fiddle for much of a tight first half, but the champions were energised by the goal and Ryan Varma might have worked Grimes harder when presented with a chance late in the half.
Cockhill used all of their big game experience as they managed the game well after Bradley prodded home the opener late in the first half and the early promise was taken from the Derry sails.
In the opening minute of part two, Bradley shot at Grimes and Gerard McLaughlin connected to another superb Gill deliver, this one a long-range free. McLaughlin somehow managed to find himself in space, but his header was off target.
Derry did carve out a chance to draw level when Adrian Delap, after combining with Cathal Farren, broke free but scuffed his shot into Cullen’s hands. That was a close as the youthful City came to getting back on level terms.
Cockhill could have sealed the deal, but they were denied by the post when Mark Moran flicked goal-wards after Doherty directed another Gill corner into the mix, while Paul McDermott was thwarted by Grimes.
In the final minute, Garbhan Friel should have clinched it, but rifled over the top after being put through by Moran.
Cockhill’s dominance of the domestic scene had included victories over Drumkeen United, Swilly Rovers, Bonagee United and Letterkenny Rovers in each of the last four finals of this competition.
Derry, for their part, were appearing in the final for the first time since a 3-0 loss to Cockhill in 2010 and bidding to bridge a gap back to 2001 when they were last League Cup winners.
Their last piece of USL silverware was five years ago when a side that included the likes of Barry McNamee and Michael Duffy scooped the League title.
Derry looked set to break the deadlock in the 25th minute. Ronan Wilson and Delap made the telling incision. With Cockhill parted, the ball was taken off the toe of the incoming Farren by Derek Doherty after Cullen saved from Rory Holden.
That opening arrived after Lee McColgan drew a save from Cullen while Farren had failed to test Cullen with a 20-yard free after the lively Holden was fouled by Peter Doherty.
Cockhill Celtic: Gavin Cullen; Derek Doherty, Peter Doherty, Oisin McColgan, Paul McDermott; Mark Moran, Gerard McLaughlin, Ryan Varma, Gerry Gill; Jimmy Bradley, Garhban Friel.
Derry City Reserves: Eric Grimes; Rhys McDermott, Scott Whiteside, Sam Todd, Lee McColgan; Adrian Delap, Paul Doherty (Shane McNamee 55), Ronan Wilson (Matty Doherty 82), Joshua Daniels; Cathal Farren (Sean McBride 55), Rory Holden.
Referee: Packie Coll.