Donegal Celtic will be without Liam Watson for Sunday’s historic Co. Antrim Steel & Sons Cup clash with Sport & Leisure at Suffolk Road.
Watson, who is the subject of an appeal as to whether he was properly registered for Celtic’s Championship League fixture against Dergview, received a broken jaw when playing for Loughguile in their County Senior Hurling Championship semi-final victory over Dunloy.
However, it’s more than likely he would not have been available for Celtic in any case, as the hurling final is also on Sunday and Watson would probably have given that priority.
Watson is also the centre of an inquiry about whether or not he played while under suspension in that Dergview game.
Celtic have lodged an appeal to the IFA against their league’s decision to deduct them three points following the Dergview match on the basis that the league made the decision prior to a definite ruling that the club were at fault over the Watson registration.
There is no doubt that he was still a Ballycastle United player at the time his registration was lodged with the IFA but the club claim that they were given clearance by the governing body when Celtic asked about the player.
The west Belfast club are also of the view that the league had no right to judge the matter as all club members would be perceived to have a conflict of interest in taking the points off DC.
Back to Steel Cup, Celtic are also missing the suspended pair of David Munster and Declan Brown.
This is the first Co. Antrim FA game to be played on a Sunday and augurs a new era at this level, paving the way for a possible final to be staged on the same when Christmas Day falls on a Sunday.
Manager Paddy Kelly said: “We have always wanted Sunday games because we believe the local people would like them and in this instance, it is perfect playing against our neighbours Sport & Leisure. Credit must go to them and the Co. Antrim for agreeing to it.”
John Connolly, chairman of the Amateur League 1A side, has put a lot of commitment into the club, and added: “It is a good thing for us as our Seconds are in the Junior Shield on Saturday and as a club, we can focus on that.
“I’m very much in favour of Sunday games as it gives people the chance to watch other matches they wouldn’t normally see.
“People are entitled to their views and I understand those who do not want to play, but from a football perspective, it makes sense.”
Other Championship clubs such as Carrick, Ballymoney and Ballyclare Comrades, face tricky encounters at Downpatrick, Islandmagee and Kilmore Rec respectively.
Holders Dundela go to Amateur League Premier Section side Abbey Villa who will want to bounce back from losing their grip on the Border Cup last saturday with a 2-1 defeat by 1A side Sirroco. The other games see Larne at home to Lower Maze, Ards taking on Shankill United and PSNI at home to Lisburn Distillery IIs.