COOKSTOWN High School lifted their fourth McCullough Cup final in just five years. It was a breathtaking performance from the local lads who used the pain of losing to Banbridge Academy in the Irish School Cup to spur them onto victory.
Star of the show for Cookstown was Irish international Ian Sloan. The talented teenager grabbed his fourth consecutive hat-trick in an Ulster Schools final, in what could be his final appearance for Cookstown High School.
Sloan may have stolen all the headlines but it was superb team performance from Cookstown. The Tyrone side kept possession superbly and defended resolutely throughout the tie.
There was only five minutes on the clock when Cookstown grabbed the opening goal. In what was only their second penalty corner, Cookstown saw an effort illegally blocked on the line. Sloan stepped up and slotted home from a well executed stroke penalty.
With only twelve minutes gone, Cookstown scored a second. Once again Sloan showed his precision from a penalty corner, as he powerfully drilled the ball past Anderson.
However, back came Banbridge as Owen Magee was rewarded with a penalty corner following a superb dart into the dee.
The initial effort from Bell was rebounded to McKee who blasted home. Banbridge were now on top and they equalised only moments later. The Cookstown defence were caught flat footed as a long ball caught out the Cookstown rearguard. McKee pounced on the mistake and slipped the ball to Magee who slotted home.
Cookstown responded immediately as Sloan slalomed his was through the midfield and passed to Ryan Millar, who saw his powerful effort hit the backboards. 3-2 to Cookstown.
Cookstown dominated the early stages of second half and were dominating possession. Banbridge were left to try and work on the counter attack through the tricky Owen Magee.
However, Cookstown soon found themselves 4-2 in front as Sloan scored the standout goal of the game. Once again Banbridge failed to stop his powerful run and as he entered the dee, he hammered a reverse stick shot into the bottom corner.
This goal put an end to any hopes of a Banbridge comeback as Sloan grabbed his fourth from Cookstown’s sixth penalty corner.
Banbridge grabbed themselves a consolation goal with minutes left on the clock as McCauge got the last touch to steer the ball home.
Sloan’s final act was to lift the McCullough Cup as Cookstown High School celebrated their fourth victory in five years.