League form is always a great leveller when trying to determine the outcome of cup finals and bearing this in mind this one will certainly go down to the wire. After a brilliant start to the season the Covies have struggled in recent weeks for consistency and fallen well back in the race for the Premier A title.
Westport Utd manager Jim Rocliffe is hoping that they will rekindle some of the blistering form they displayed back in May and June. “We started well, but we’ve gone off the boil a bit, to be honest, ever since we reached the cup final. We are hoping that we’re saving ourselves for the big day in Milebush.” Many observers will point to the 1-1 draw between the sides earlier in the season as a guideline as to what could happen. “We played them up in Killala and it was a 1-1 draw. It was a tough game and it always is with Killala. We’ll have to be at our best to beat them. They play good football and they will give us a serious game, and if we take the foot off the pedal at all Killala will be a very tough team to beat. It’ll be a great final and there won’t be much in it.”
As a result of some strong performances of late, some of Jim Rocliffe’s squad have been drafted into the A team. Rocliffe said: “They are getting a great chance under John Brennan, Mark McNally especially. He has been fantastic for us the last couple of years. It was only a matter of time before he was brought up. The injury to Dave Hoban has probably propelled that.”
The quarter-final win over league leaders Glenhest Rovers has instilled a steely belief into Rocliffes’ charges, and it has been a focal point of their season to date. “It was a huge boost. They had been going brilliantly and they hadn’t conceded a goal at that stage. We hadn’t done well in the cup in the last couple of years and we felt this year we would give it a right go,” Rocliffe said.
Killala meanwhile who celebrated their 40th anniversary last weekend have been making steady progress but they know the scale of the challenge that faces them on Sunday. John Heffernan has taken over the reins following the brilliant work of Peter McDonnell.“Westport are an exceptional team. Once you play Westport at any level from youth all the way to senior you are going to have an extremely tough game. At the back they are exceptional. The two centre halves have been playing well for most of the season. These lads are training with the A team the whole time and they have the experience.”
After coming through arguably the tougher side of the draw according to Heffernan they certainly are battle-hardened. “They went through a fairly tough side of the draw playing against Moy Villa, where they won on penalties. And in the semi-final [we] had an extremely tough game against Fahy Rovers,” added Heffernan. The game against Fahy Rovers certainly stands out as a reference point in their season as they were pushed to the pin of their collar. “It was a tough game and in fairness to Fahy Rovers they were excellent on the day. There was a lot of pressure put on us from the start to finish, but the lads dug deep.” Both sides will adopt an all-out attack approach with lots of goals expected in what hopes to be a thriller. A hesitant vote goes towards Westport Utd B with experience being a huge factor.