Belfast Harlequins HC 1-5 Cookstown HC -
The Reds started the game much sharper than their Belfast opponents, looking dangerous from the outset.
It wasn’t long before Cookstown took a swift lead when Paul Thompson drove the baseline drive and squared to Greg Allen to finish after a goalmouth scramble.
The initial Cookstown pace didn’t last however, as Harlequins were allowed back into the game following a straight strike from a short corner midway through the first half.
In a game littered with slips, trips and questionable umpiring decisions, the Reds failed to take back their lead during the first half and went into the half-time break facing a frustrating one-all score line.
The Red Socks initiated their second half in similar fashion to the first and struck early when Stuart Smyth ran clear of the Harlequin defence, to lob the charging keeper with a delightfully weighted sweep into the opponent’s goal.
Smyth would soon add another, this time courtesy of a drag-flicked corner, well won by Greg Allen.
With the game at 3-1, Cookstown were firmly in control of the game when the dynamic Smyth struck yet again, completing his hat-trick, beating two Quins defenders before smashing a reverse hard into the home goal.
Veteran Andrew Barbour then completed the 5-1 score line, delicately tipping in a deflection from a deep Ewan Butler crash ball.
We grabbed a quick quote from Stuart Smyth who had this to say on a difficult first half against Harlequins: “It is encouraging as a squad that we can come in at half–time, say when certain factors are not going our way, and produce a big second half performance.
“It is a long season and I’m sure we will find ourselves in this position several times, we are going to have to weather storms, absolutely.”
The Reds now face Kilkeel HC on Monday night in the Kirk Cup before their weekend off due to an Irish Senior Cup first round bye.