Cookstown Youth U16s 1
Northern Ireland U16s 3
Cookstown took the field at MUSA to play their illustrious counterparts and, although not quite the David and Goliath Act, the lads did themselves proud.
Cookstown knew they would have to work their socks off from the word go and that’s exactly what they did.
In the first minute D Teague fired in a long range free kick and C McGovern just could not get enough power on a header to trouble the NI keeper.
Cookstown battled and harried the NI defence into some desperate back passes to the keeper, with C McGovern and A Murphy just failing to run them down.
The NI keeper was under pressure and cleared his lines wildly on several occasions.
NI steadied and mounted a few attacks down the flanks and through the middle but a superb defence of S McMath, M Corrigan, A Bell and P Stewart in particular were blocking out everything.
M Megarry and J Glasgow in midfield were also working hard as NI tried to find a way through. Cookstown countered and good work down the left by D Teague and A Murphy set up C McGovern only to see his shot go over the bar. More pressure from Cookstown saw the NI defence and their keeper, in particula,r rattled as Cookstown ran and chased everything.
NI came back at Cookstown but time and time again A Bell and P Stewart put in great tackles to snuff out the threat. Cookstown were particularly dangerous down the right wing with J Harte, J Glasgow and S McMath all combining to set up A Murphy but the NI keeper gathered the ball in safely.
More pressure down the right by S McMath, C McGovern and M Megarry saw the NI defence clear their lines yet again as the game entered the last ten minutes of the half.
The sucker-punch for Cookstown arrived two minutes later as NI made a quick break down the left wing crossed the ball into the penalty box and for once Cookstown only partially cleared the ball to the edge of the box and a NI player was first to react to stab home the opening goal.
Halftime duly arrived with Cookstown somewhat unfortunate to be a goal down.
The second half started badly for Cookstown in the first minute as the NI winger picked up a ball wide on the left and fired in an unstoppable shot from all of 30 yards into the top left hand corner of the net. No goalkeeper never mind Cookstowns C Reynolds could have saved it.
It was a sickener for Cookstown but, to their credit, they came back at NI forcing a free kick in the edge of the box. M Megarry fired it in low and hard only to see the NI Keeper made a good save.
There followed a spell of pressure from Cookstown with M Corrigan forcing a couple of corners down the left but NI cleared on each occasion.
NI in turn applied pressure and goalie C Reynolds cleared on the edge of his box as a NI forward broke through.
A couple of dangerous corners were then cleared by P Stewart and A Bell, with Reynolds pulling off a good save low down to his right as NI threatened to take control.
Changes were made with A Woods, G McElhone and L Johnston all coming on to see if the game could be turned around. Cookstown battled back into the game and C McGovern and A Woods were unlucky with a couple of half chances.
With ten minutes to go, and against the run of play, NI scrambled home goal number three following a corner.
Further substitutions were at this stage with D O’Neill, E Santos and W McCullagh entering the fray. NI had their tails up at this stage and only good defensive work by G McElhone, W McCullagh and P Stewart yet again prevented NI from breaking through.
With five minutes left NI did breach the Cookstown defence but Reynolds pulled off a point black save to keep the scoreline 3-0.
Cookstown simply would not lie down and a couple of surging runs through the middle by D O’Neill almost produced a goal.
Cookstown were not to be denied, however, and with two minutes to go M Megarry picked up the ball 25 yards out, beat his man and thundered home a brilliant shot into the roof of the net.
It was the least Cookstown deserved from this game. Make no mistake about it, NI knew they had been in a tough match. The management of R Cummings, T Megarry, I Donaghy and G McCaw were full of praise for a fantastic performance, citing Paul Stewart as MOM for a superb display in centre of defence closely followed by Reynolds in goal.
Cookstown panel: C Reynolds, S McMath, M Corrigan, A Bell, P Stewart, C McGovern, M Megarry, J Harte, J Glasgow, D Teague, A Murphy, A Woods, W McCullagh, E Santos, L Johnston, D O’Neill, G McElhone.
CYFC 13s 1 Warrenpoint Town 1
Coleraine Academy 5 CYFC 14s 0
CYFC 15s 1 Portadown 2
Warrenpoint 1 CYFC 13s 0
Cookstown began in complete control and Sam Hardy almost scored on two ocassions. Ryan McFarland was skinning his marker for fun and put over numerous excellent crosses.
Slack play from a throw in allowed Warrenpoint to score against the run of play but Chris Boyd almost levelled with a left foot shot.
Cookstown wasted further chances with Nathan Connolly heading wide, Ryan Murphy’s header and the follow-up from McFarland both cleared off the line and another strike from Boyd saved by the keeper.
Keeper Afonso Tereso saved well when faced with two one-on-one situations.
Cookstown finished up on the losing side once more but they must wonder how after dominating large periods of the game. .
CYFC U13: Afonso Tereso, Jack Turkington, Tyler Anderson, Ryan Murphy, Marty McCracken, Nathan Connolly, Sam Hardy, Ryan McFarland, Chris Boyd, Caolan Argue, Kaelum Irvine, Brendan Davey
CYFC 14s 0 Coleraine 5
Cookstown again must be wondering what they have done to deserve the punishment they get every week. 5 mistakes cost them dearly in a game where they were far from five goals worse than Coleraine.
Initially the start of Cookstown left coaches Kelly and Wilson wondering if they could keep the score down as they found themselves 2 nil down after a mere fifteen minutes.
The first was an unfortunate own goal and the second was a swift move from Coleraine which Cookstown couldn’t contain.
That finally sparked Cookstown into life and Thom, Arrell and Hughes all went very close to gettting the goal before the break.
Arrell was working as hard as he has done to hold the ball up against a tall and lean defence and at the break the coaches were more than positive about Cookstown’s chances.
The second half began with a few substitutions from Cookstown, on came Buchanon and McKee for the hard working Dingley and McMullan and Cookstown started where they finished.
Chances came and went again and Coleraine were on the back foot but yet Cookstown a poor piece of defending resulted in a penalty being awarded, albeit harshly.
That made the game safe for Coleraine and they went on to score another 2 in quick succession to leave Cookstown wondering how or when their luck might change from being all bad to being good.
Squad: Ben Young, Cameron Thom, Cameron McMullan, Stefan O’Hare, Ryan Rocks, Jamie McCrum, Ryan Dobson, Jack Dingley, Adam Keane, Steven Arrell, Ronan Hughes, Luke McCrea, Matthew Kelly, Caleb Buchanon, Kyle Devlin, James Mckee, Ciaran Monaghan
Dates for your diary
Friday March 1: Poker Classic in Richardson’s Bar, Tobermore 8pm, £10 to enter and £10 buy-in up to 10pm.
Saturday March 9: Irish Stew Nite in Cookstown Hockey Club 8pm.
CYFC Development Centre, 6.30-8pm, MUSA
Glendowan v CYFC 16s, KO Cup
CYFC 11s, Colts TBC
CYFC 12s v Oak Athletic, NIBFA Cup 11am, MUSA 3G
Crusaders v CYFC 13s, 11am, Belfast
CYFC 14s v Warrenpoint, 11am, Cookstown
Linfield v CYFC 15s, KO Cup, 11am, Belfast
Annagh Utd v CYFC 18s, KO Cup, 10am, Portadown