Hockey: Cookstown reach Kirk Cup final thanks to extra-time winner

Cookstown's Greg Allen �Press Eye
Cookstown's Greg Allen �Press Eye

Lisnagarvey 2-3 Cookstown

The sides had previously shared a 3-3 draw in September, indicating that this game might be a close affair, adding to the intrigue of the fans who had packed out the Bridge stands.

However, despite the anticipation and hype surrounding the game, the opening 20 minutes were little to write home about with both sides snuffing minor chances.

Lisnagarvey did manage to win a number of penalty corners early on, however were without resident flicker Timmy Cockram and were duly defended by Ian Hughes and his defensive team.

The deadlock was finally broken with the first real chance of the game, Keith Black striking a long ball into the circle which deflected off the keeper’s pads and into the path of the poaching Raymond Miller who fired low past the Lisnagarvey goalkeeper from just inside the flick spot.

From the restart Garvey began to creep forward, utilising possession between their centre backs against the lone, shuttling Cookstown centre-forward.

They were finally rewarded with an equaliser when James Lorimer fired hard to the back post where an unmarked Garvey forward trickled a deflection past the sprawled out Hughes.

The half-time hooter signaled with the game locked at 1-1.

As a thick blanket of fog had descended on Shaws Bridge following the half-time break, Lisnagarvey were on the rise.

Much to Cookstown’s dismay they were able to force a lead early in second half, a communication breakdown allowing an unmarked Blue attacker to smash a reverse high into the Cookstown goal, giving Garvey a 2-1 lead.

The Reds then received a moment’s respite from their shaky start to the second half due to the heavy fog which had accumulated around the grounds.

Following the brief break, the decision was made to push Greg Allen forward into the free role in search of a goal to keep the Reds in the tournament.

Cookstown continued to knock on the door for the remainder of the half but their penalty corners went wayward and the game looked to be falling into the Lisnagarvey mens hands.

With time running down, Greg Allen found Mark Crooks just inside the 25, who skipped past his marker to charge into the Garvey circle.

A barrage of red shirts flooded the D in desperation as Crooks played across goal where, through a cluster of sticks, Raymond Miller was able to tip in his second of the afternoon and seventh goal of the weekend, an equaliser with a minute and a half left on the clock.

The game headed into extra-time with both sides surging for that elusive silver goal, coming much sooner than expected during the first minute of extra-time when Thompson, combining with Crooks, dazzled their way past a number Blue defenders to draw out the goalkeeper leaving an unmarked Greg Allen at the back-post.

With a last ditch dink over the goalkeepers’s stick, Thompson fed Allen to play into the empty goal, giving Cookstown the lead with just four minutes to play.

The Reds then reverted to their original formation in an attempt to hold out against the relentless attacks of Lisnagarvey.

Holding strong for the final moments, the hooter finally sounded, booking Cookstown a place in the Kirk Cup final on Boxing Day against rivals Banbridge.