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26 Sept 2022

Gavin Cullen says FAI must help save intermediate football in Donegal

The recent withdrawal of Monaghan United has left the USL with only five teams - and Cullen says it will be a 'disgrace' if the FAI don't intervene

Gavin Cullen says FAI must help save intermediate football in Donegal

Cockhill Celtic manager Gavin Cullen.

Cockhill Celtic manager Gavin Cullen says the Football Association of Ireland must intervene to preserve intermediate football in Donegal.

Cockhill begin their new Ulster Senior League campaign on Sunday with a League Cup game at Letterkenny Rovers (Leckview Park, Sunday, 2pm).

The recent withdrawal of Monaghan United has left the USL with only five teams.

“Unless something is done, this season will be it,” Cullen told Donegal Live.

“Unless the FAI do something, it won’t continue - and it would be a disgrace if they don’t. They have to do something at this point.

“This isn’t about who wants want or where they want it - this is about the betterment of the game in Donegal. If we lose intermediate football, the players of the future will suffer.

“It is unbelievable that this is being allowed to happen. It is going lads, footballers, who are suffering. It’s sad that the players of the future could suffer.”

Former Finn Harps goalkeeper Cullen returned to Cockhill in 2013, first as a player, before succeeding Donal O’Brien as manager in 2015.

Cullen has become a passionate defender of the USL and has urged football’s powers that be to step in.

“There has to be a structure,” he said. “If you go anywhere in world football, you have stepping stones and structures.

“I cannot for the life of me understand why we have so many factions in Donegal. They are basically working against football by working against each other.

“Since I started managing Cockhill, I’ve really had my eyes opened. I just find it all so illogical.”

Cockhill have won nine Ulster Senior League titles in a row and will be out to retain the crown again in the 2022/23 campaign.

Lee McLaughlin has been recruited from Carndonagh, but Paddy Slevin, recently added from Aileach, has sustained a serious knee injury. Cockill have bid farewell to Laurence Toland, who has returned to Swilly Rovers, while Mark Moran has joined Dunree United.

Cullen said: “We set high standards here all the time and our players demand that the standards are high. That brings the confidence that we can win trophies.

“We have a very good bunch of players who want to play at a high level. I fear now for those type of players because, with no disrespect intended, the quality is lower in the junior leagues.

“Football in Donegal should be run by one governing body with everyone working together and letting the best players play at the best levels.”

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