At 8.00pm on Wednesday night 500 years of combined Cookstown hockey experience entered the arena of Steelweld Park to play an equally experienced Lisnagarvey side.
After exchanging a few old memories with opposite numbers, visors were dropped and battle began. Cookstown started off the stronger with defender Ian Millar and midfielder Philip Barbour making numerous penetrating runs down the right to feed the demanding Paul Barrett at centre forward.
Lisnagarvey who we’re fielding six current over 45 Ireland players were certainly taken by surprise by the skill and speed of passing around their defence and Cookstown were able to win a number of short corners but were not able to capitalise with a goal.
On an isolated attack into the Cookstown 25 Garveys speedy Bruce Agnew turned his marker and scored against guest keeper Tim Hogg who had a super game. This taunted Cookstown into even more attacking hockey and they were soon rewarded with a Classic Sam Cuddy finish to level the score.
From then Cookstown were happy to settle and play good hockey knowing that a goal would surely be the result. The most experienced Kenny Crooks was majestic in the centre of the park feeding wingers Colin Turkington and Paul Mitchell who terrorised the Garvey full backs.
Sweeper Ian Hagan constantly moved in front of the back three and superbly supported the Cookstown attack to force more short corners.
From one corner the wile Malcolm McWhirter stepped forward to take responsibility and rocketed the shot towards the goal which nicked off the advancing keepers pads into to roof of the net. 2 – 1 Cookstown.
After a comfortable Cookstown spell Garvey then ramped up the pressure in the last ten minutes but Ryan Turkington and Colin Scott who hadn’t missed a tackle all night were not going to allow the break through.
Cookstown deservedly won the game against a strong Lisnagarvey side. With the Irish veterans coach spectating hopefully a few more Cookstown players will get the call for next years World Cup being played in Holland.
It was great to see these legends grace the field once again with an excellent standard of hockey. Veterans is the fastest growing sector in world hockey it is planned to play together on a more regular basis.
Thanks to Ian Cheever’s and Stephen Hamilton for umpiring and for the injured Martin Sloan’s tactical advice from the bench.