Letterkenny Rovers 5 Bonagee United 3
Letterkenny Rovers overcame the challenge of Bonagee 5-3 in the opening game of the League Cup but made life very difficult for themselves in what was a madcap game in sodden conditions at Leckview Park. .
Rovers got off to a flying start and took the lead on 18 minutes when Pajo Rafferty was first to react to divert Sean McCarrons effort past hapless Bonagee netminder Marty McGinty and Rovers joy was doubled just minutes later as McCarron hit a sublime effort from outside the box which curled into the bottom.
Rovers were full value for their lead having seeing earlier chances from Rafferty and Steve Okakpo-Emeka go close.
The game seemed to be over as a contest when Kevin McGrath neatly fired home after 25 minutes after neat work by Tristan Ferris and McCarron and Bonagees cause seemed to be lost when Mark Harkin received a red card just a minute after coming on as an an early sub for a challenge on Steve Okakpo-Emeka on 26 minutes.
Rovers exerted their authority at this stage and had chances through Rafferty and Chris Malseed while Matty Harkin came close for Bonagee but it was Rovers who made it 4-0 with the move of the game on 42 minutes which came when a classic move involving Malseed, Rafferty and McGrath ended with McGrath playing in McCarron and he hit an unstoppable shot across the bows of McGinty in the Bonagee goals.
The game should have been done and dusted but a seven minute period of madness either side of the break got Bonagee back to 4-3 and had Rovers questioning their credentials while Bonagee sensed a remarkable comeback in Tony O'Carroll’s first game in charge.
Matty Harkin on 43 and Jamie Lynagh in first half stoppage time scored from close range to remarkably cut the deficit to 4-2 before a long range deflected Michael Funston free kick somehow found the bottom corner of Rory Kellys goal to make it 4-3 on 48 minutes and very much game on.
Rovers though settled and McGinty had to be alert to deny McCarron his hat-trick on 56 minutes while Malseed shot over but McCarron was not to be denied on 65 minutes when his first time effort flew past McGinty after some terrific spadework from sub Odhran McMacken.
Bonagee then had half chances through Daniel Stolarzyck and Funston again while Conor Tourish had to be alert to deny Deano Larkin with a last ditch tackle although Rovers had plenty of chances themselves but efforts from subs Brandon Manues and the returning from injury Darren McElwaine along with chances for Malseed, Rafferty and McMacken all went abegging in the considerable downpour which enveloped Leckview Park.
Rovers happy to hear the final shrill of Michael Connollys whistle and manager Eamon McConigley delighted to get his side off to winning ways and they know a point at Finn Harps Reserves next week will be good enough for a semi final spot in the three team group while Bonagee still have a chance of qualifying if they beat Harps in a few weeks time
Letterkenny Rovers: Rory Kelly; Tristan Ferris (Ruairi Dennehy 62), Conor Tourish, Ryan Gildea, Chris Flanagan; Steve Okakpo-Emeka (Brandon Manues 80), Chris Malseed, Christy Connaghan, Kevin McGrath (Odhran McMacken 55); Pajo Rafferty, Sean McCarron (Darren McElwaine 77).
Bonagee United: Marty McGinty; Rory McCrossan, Caillin McLaughlin, Glenn Gallagher (Darren Hunter 63), Scott Rice; Aaron Wasson (Daniel Stolarczyk 68), Michael Funston, Jamie Lynagh (Jordan Rogers 81), Ciaran Daffan (Mark Harkin 24); Matty Harkin, Dean Larkin.
Referee: Michael Connolly.