REVENGE was a dish best served on a splendid Saturday afternoon on the hallowed soil of the Franky as the 3rds reversed the score line inflicted on them earlier in the season at Newry.
Stand in skipper Hagan enforced that the team would need to stand toe to toe with Newry on the physical side and match the Mourne men’s work rate if Cookstown where to take anything from the game and he could not have been disappointed with the way his side responded. From the push back the reds midfield of Donaldson, Johnston and Cherry, grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck.
Their tackling, passing and driving runs tearing the game from Newry before they had a chance to settle, it was not surprise when the quick thinking Johnston picked the ball up on the edge of the D for a free hit, took the auto pass and drove in a fine finish to put the reds 1-0.
By now it was all Cookstown with Newry only offering sporadic forays into the Reds circle and on every occasion they found the backline of Henry, Thom, Miller, Hagan and H.Stewart in an unrelenting mood. Miller on the right wing was proving a good base for the constant wave of attacking hockey and from one of his circle penetrations Smyth nearly double the Reds lead but for a good save from the visitor’s keeper.
After a few interesting penalty corner routines, the Reds reverted back to Cherry as the injector and from his first pull out Robinson almost found the illusive gap which H. Stewart had pointed out from the halfway line at the keeper’s right post. The next corner resulted in a deft switch left to Donaldson and his shot turned into a perfect pass for Cherry to deflect the ball into the said gap. At 2-0 the Reds were in no mood to relent, revenge was the name of the game and more goals were called for.
The impressive pairing of Johnston and Donaldson kept the team driving forward relentlessly. Miller again made headway down the right and his pin point shot found Smyth perfectly positioned at the back post to turn in number three, the man is deadly from six inches. Half time sounded not too soon for a depleted looking Newry side.
So it was no surprise that Newry of course started the second half much the better side and the Reds were caught in possession far too often, the wonder ball or dribble seemed all the men in red were interested in.
Indeed but for some good work from Henry in nets Newry more than deserved to force their way back into the game, but the keeper came to his side’s aid on several occasions. Slowly the Reds found their rhythm again and gradually swung the flow of play back towards the Newry goal. Greer on the left wing was causing problems with his pace and it was no surprise that it was a surging run and nice reverse finish from him which kick started the reds second half.
The midfield began to function again and Johnston was rewarded for a sterling performance in the centre of the field when he got on the end of a pin point Thom crash ball to deflect home number 5. Job done, now all that remained was for the impressive Donaldson to get his name on the score sheet. From another smooth counter attack the reds surged forward and the tall midfielder strode into the circle but with two men lining up at the back post to finish off the move, he made his only mistake of the afternoon and decided to take the shot on himself, to say it was a back pass does the weakness of the effort a disservice.
Final score 5-0 to Cookstown
Thanks to B. Thom for umpiring duties.
MOM: G. Donaldson and I. Johnston
Team: A. Henry, G. Thom, I. Hagan, M. Miller, H. Stewart, P. Cherry, I. Johnston, G. Donaldson, R. Miller, R. Robinson, M. Smyth, M. Greer, M. McWhirter and S. Stewar