THEY say that umpires can win or lose you a game,well they certainly didn’t help Cookstown’s cause last Saturday as a couple of controversial decisions swung the game towards Inst.
The Reds started sluggishly and almost went behind after 8 minutes when Redpath set up Robinson who scooped the ball over the bar from close range. In their first meaningful attack of the game Cookstown took the lead, Allen found Smyth who transferred quickly for Crooks to sweep home.
This should have been the platform to build on but things didn’t work out that way. Miller had a great chance to put Cookstown two up but keeper Skillen improvised and the shot came off his helmet. Barbour and Cuddy then combined but unfortunately Barbour just couldn’t get a clean connection with the goal at his mercy and his effort was scrambled to safety.
The Reds passing game that was so much in evidence against Mossley just didn’t feature in this game as the match descended into a dour struggle. Hughes made a wonderful reflex save from an Irwin deflection and then made a great double save from Instonians first penalty corner as the Belfast side came into the game more. Inst equalised through Irwin after it looked like ‘feet’ in the build up to the goal, however, umpire Dowds waved away Cookstown protests.
On the half-time whistle the Reds won a penalty corner but Skillen saved Black’s deflection.
Into the second half where the Cookstown support hoped that more use would be made of their forwards. However, as the game wore on the forwards saw very little of the ball. An ambitious ball out of defence by Butler was intercepted by Inst and during a goal-mouth scramble Irwin got the final touch from a dive to put Inst 2-1 up.
The Reds had to push forward now and left themselves susceptible to the counter attack. Dangerman Irwin collected the ball after Inst had broken down a home side attack and made his way into the Cookstown circle.
He was well tracked by Black who put in a good flat-bat tackle and the ball ran into Irwin’s feet. As Cookstown tried to take a quick free, umpire McCully inexplicably awarded Inst a penalty corner, even Irwin was surprised. From the resulting corner Inst went further ahead when Redpath scored.
Cookstown had to push forward now and former Raphoe man Corry received a yellow for a bad tackle on Sloan. With the extra man advantage the Reds dominated for a while and the deficit was reduced when Cuddy scored with a good strike from a penalty corner, however, even then the umpires had a chat before the goal was awarded.
Another penalty corner was won but Skillen saved from a Sloan drag.
Going into the last couple of minutes and with decisions going against the Reds, coach Cuddy vented his frustration on the umpires and was promptly shown a red card. This was certainly not the result Cookstown needed as they build towards the Kirk Cup final.
Inst have now completed the double over the Reds and will be buoyed by this result after a disappointing performance the previous week.
Cookstown make the long trip to Kilkeel this coming Saturday in their final game before Boxing Day’s Kirk Cup final.