Hockey: Cookstown into Irish Junior Cup semi-finals after victory over Banbridge

Raymond Miller got a brilliant goal against Banbridge on Sunday.

Raymond Miller got a brilliant goal against Banbridge on Sunday.

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Tony Johnston wsa the toast of the Twos on Sunday as his inspired performance helped Cookstown into the Irish Junior Cup semi-finals.

The Cookstown schoolboy was in brilliant form as he helped his team to a 5-2 victory over the team which put them out of the competition at the semi-final stage last year.

The Tyrone men started at a pace which the Havelock Park team just could not live with and were 4-1 up at half time.

Omagh man Andy Smyth got the first when sprinted clear of the defence after great work down the right by Johnston and Barbour, and the same player added a second when he got a deft touch to a pinpoint pass by Johnston just minutes later.

Banbridge were able to stabilise the ship for a few minutes before Johnston again cut a dash through the despairing Bann tackles before squaring to Raymond Miller to steer home through the keeper’s legs.

Again, Bann rallied and forced period of pressure on the Cookstown defence, but the Tyrone men held firm and were able to get the ball out to Thomas Hutchinson whose long pass found Richard Nelson in an advanced position. The striker was perfectly composed as he squared the ball for Johnston to smash home.

A green card for Dan Crooks left Cookstown with ten men on the pitch, and this gave bann the opportunity to get a goal back on the stroke of half time.

Cookstown were guilty of thinking that the tie was over at the start of the second half and allowed Bann to get a goal back ten minutes in.

Nevertheless, Cookstown were able to quickly regain their three-goal cushion through a sweeping move started by Barbour and Johnston and finished brilliantly by Nelson following a superbly weighted ball from Miller.

Cookstown will face Monkstown II in the IJC semi-final at Steelweld Park on March 23. This week they take on Instonians II in the league at Shawsbridge.

Many thanks to Ian Cheevers and Ken Crooks, and to all the Cookstown supporters who came down to cheer the team on.