Hockey: Cookstown plotting strong finish to season

TACKLE... Cookstown break up a Lisnagarvey attack.INMM5013-359SR
TACKLE... Cookstown break up a Lisnagarvey attack.INMM5013-359SR

COOKSTOWN 7 RAPHOE 1

Cookstown coach Stephen Cuddy is plotting a successful second half to the season.

The Reds completed their games for 2013 with a good 7-1 home win over Raphoe on Saturday, but the Sandholes man still has big ambitions for the club in 2014.

“Obviously we are disappointed not to be back in the Kirk Cup final,” he told the MAIL.”But it affords us two weeks off before we begin out preparations for the Irish Hockey League (IHL).

“We finished 2013 with two trophies - the Kirk and the Anderson - but we are keen get a good start in the IHL and continue our record of making it to the last four as we have in each of the last two seasons.”

A fantastic first half performance against perennial bigwigs Lisnagarvey still gives Cuddy the belief that his side can match any team in Ireland.

“We needed a big reaction after the Pembroke game,” he said. “And thankfully in that first half we got it. That has to be the standard for us.”

The Reds certainly showed their attacking prowess on Saturday at Steelweld Park when they put Raphoe to the sword.

Stuart Smyth opened the scoring in the first half after Greg Allen intercepted a long ball out of defence. Mark Rooney subsequently squared the ball for Smyth to bash home.

Gareth Cuddy then doubled the Cookstown lead when he picked up the ball on the edge of the circle, dodged a couple of poor tackles and smash the ball home on the turn.

Raymond Miller then got in on the act when he battled his way through two defenders before swapping a pass with Cuddy and slotting home for 3-0 to the home side.

After half time Cookstown continued to blow the Donegal men away. First, Andy Barbour got his name on the score sheet when Matty Rollins intercepted and the midfielder finished.

Then, Miller got his second of the match with a hard low reverse following a simple passing move.

Raphoe did manage a semi-revival when they got a goal back, but it was short-lived when Cookstown captain, jon Ames, got the goal of the day. Greg Allen and he showed enterprise down the right hand side before Ames lifted the ball over a last ditch Raphoe tackle and slotted the ball past the keeper.

Now 6-1, Cookstown put the game to bed with a last goal for Barbour. He intercepted on the 23 only to see the keeper palm his shot away. Thankfully, the Reds were able to recycle and Barbour was on hand to claim his brace when he thumped into the top corner.

Cookstown’s next game is against NI Civil Service on January 4. Their IHL campaign begins in eight weeks time.