Hockey: Cookstown face big Irish Junior Cup challenge against Monkstown

HEAD TO HEAD... Cookstown and Annadale go head to head during Saturday's cup clash at Steelweld Park.INMM0514-337SR
HEAD TO HEAD... Cookstown and Annadale go head to head during Saturday's cup clash at Steelweld Park.INMM0514-337SR
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Cookstown had a workmanlike win in their last league outing before their upcoming Irish Junior Cup semi-final against Monkstown on Sunday at Steelweld Park.

The Reds were almost back to full strength following their draw against Instonians a week before, but were forced to reshuffle the pack somewhat as they took on high-flying Garvey at Hillsborough.

Nevertheless, Cookstown were quick out of the blocks and should have taken a lead on several occasions in the first ten minutes.

The Reds finally opened the scoring through the efforts of Andy Smyth who smashed home a superb reverse 15 minutes into the game.

Cookstown’s second was a corker with Thomas Hutchinson and Smyth combining to set up Richard Nelson with a superb series of passes which carved up the Garvey back four.

The Reds were not quite the same team following the break, allowing Garvey too much possession. They were, however, able to increase their lead through a Smyth deflection before Lisnagarvey claimed back a goal on the break.

Another goal by Smyth put the game beyond the Hillsborough men who did get back two late goals.The result sees Cookstown climb into third place in JL1 behind Annadale and Lisnagarvey II.

This weekend Cookstown have their biggest match of the season against Monkstown II in the semi-final of the Irish Junior Cup on Sunday afternoon at 2.30pm.

Reigning champions Monkstown will bring an intimidating amount of talent to Steelweld Park, but history has shown that the Reds have a habit of knocking out the holders in this prestigious competition.

Bouyed by the return of Ian Hutchinson and Godfrey Irwin to the team, as well as the awesome form of Richard Nelson, Andy Smyth and Tony Johnston, Cookstown have gone toe-to-toe with some of the best teams in Ulster this year. A 3-2 win in the second round over favourites Annadale followed an 8-0 win over Dublin University.

Thomas Hutchinson’s team then dumped Banbridge out of the tournament with a 5-2 victory on the road - but nothing will come close to the intensity and skill that Monkstown will bring on Saturday.

The Dubliners defeated Three Rock Rovers 4-3 in their quarter-final having already dealt with Railway Union and Corinthians.

This will be Monkstown’s first time playing outside the Dublin City limits in the irish junior Cup and with conditions expected to get much colder and wetter, it could make the match very interesting encounter indeed.