DO OR DIE FOR REDS AS TITLE RACE HOTS UP

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COOKSTOWN face three of their main rivals of the next week as the Premier League campaign draws to a close.

The next week will have a huge bearing on whether or not Cookstown will challenge for the honours.

At the minute the destiny of the Keightley Cup is still well within their hands but their tie against Lisnagarvey (last night) could prove crucial in the run in.

The reigning seem to have the ‘Indian sign’ over Cookstown this season. In their last fixture, the Reds were on the wrong end of a 5-1 rout. In addition, Garvey pipped the Reds to the Kirk Cup title at Christmas.

However, Cookstown have one victory to their name over Garvey after a comprehensive 3-0 win the Kirk Cup group stages.

After taking on Cookstown, Garvey then face Annadale in their last league game, so things won’t get any easier for them.

On Saturday The Reds entertain Banbridge (2.30pm) who are currently lying 2nd in the league. This will be the 4th meeting of these teams this season. Bann knocked Cookstown out of the Irish Senior Cup at Coolnafranky back in November. Just before the two teams travelled to Antwerp for the EHL, Cookstown beat Bann 4-2 in the IHL and more recently beat them at Havelock Park, 2- 1 in the Premier League.

Penalty corner expert Ross McCandless will be back from injury and his brother Bruce will also be available after his Irish squad involvement. Meetings between these sides are usually cagey affairs, and depending on the previous Garvey result, this game could prove crucial.

The following Wednesday night (28th at 7.45pm) Cookstown travel to Lough Moss to take on Annadale. The Reds have previously beaten Dale at home 4-2 in the league, however since then Andy Smyth’s side have put together some decent results. Dale are in the process of re-building and their young side will be a force to be reckoned with in the coming seasons. The Reds will have to try and keep Fraser Mills quiet as he is capable of winning a game on his own.

After these three tough games Cookstown finish their league programme with a home game against already relegated North Down on 31st March 2.30pm. Co-coaches Stephen Cuddy and Michael Haycock would give everything to be going into this final game with the destiny of the Premier league still within their hands.

These four games will be seen as good preparation when Cookstown re-start their IHL campaign on 14th April with a vital away game against Cork Harlequins.

The following day, Sunday 15th April, Cookstown 2nds host Banbridge 2nds in the semi-final of the Irish Junior Cup. This game will have a 3pm start with the winners taking on either Lisnagarvey or Corinthians in the final at UCD.