Antrim 1 Cookstown 11
The reigning Ulster Premier League champions began the defence of their title with an emphatic win over newly promoted Antrim.
It took Cookstown 20 minutes before they got a decent foothold in this game with their preparations not helped by the game being delayed for 20 minutes due to the late arrival of umpire Dowds. Loads of chances went abegging in a scrappy opening period as both teams struggled to play any kind of cohesive hockey.
The visitors took the lead when an aerial from Keith Black found Greg Allen who beat his man before finding Jon Ames. The midfielder entered the circle and as the keeper advanced, squared for Stuart Smyth to fire home.
From a rare Antrim attack the home side were awarded a penalty corner and scored with a combination of a deflection and a tackle as the ball looped high over Ian Hughes in goal.
Cookstown continued to create and miss chances as the Antrim goal had a charmed life. The lead was restored when a through ball from Matthew Rollins hopped off Allen’s stick to be controlled and swept home at the back post by Simon Todd.
On the half time whistle Cookstown were awarded a prolongated penalty corner and Smyth scored again to give the Reds a 3-1 lead.
It was a completely different story in the second half as Cookstown eventually got their slick passing game going. Chances were still being created but this half most of them were being converted. Gareth Cuddy scored from a penalty corner in the first minute of the second half. Greg Allen then scored two quick goals after good passing moves. Man of the Match, Jon Ames, got in on the act to put Cookstown 7-1 up.
Todd and Cuddy then combined down Cookstown’s left to set up Ryan Millar to score with a reverse sweep into the roof. Todd scored with a reverse strike before Millar and Ames added further goals to make the final score 11-1 to Cookstown.
So, a good start to the league campaign and a healthy goal difference already.
The Reds will be severely tested this coming Saturday as Lisnagarvey are the visitors to the ‘Franky’ in a re-scheduled league game.
Garvey have signed Bland from Civil Service and Lorimer from Mossley and are finalising their Euro Hockey League preparations. This game will be a good pointer as to where the Keithley Cup will rest at the end of the season.
Cookstown: Ian Hughes, Matty Rollins, Ewan Butler, Godfrey Irwin, Keith Black, Simon Todd, Andrew Barbour, Stephen Sloan, Greg Allen, Gareth Cuddy, Stuart Smyth, Paul Thompson, Jon Ames, Ryan Millar