COOKSTOWN Rugby Club Captain Ryan Eastwood has urged all of Cookstown to get behind the rugby club in the town, as they prepare to take on Ballyclare in the Ravenhill Cup Final this Saturday.
Rugby is on its way up in the town and Eastwood says it’s not just about Saturday; it’s about the future of the club, as they move up leagues next year, with promotion already secured. “We as a club are really looking forward to it, right through from the managers, assistants, every player that has played or hasn’t played, but Cookstown is a small rugby club and the town wouldn’t really be renowned for its rugby.”
“We have a great we cross-community club running, with some very talented athletes, from all over Tyrone, coming from different sporting backgrounds, mixed in with rugby players that have played at a high level, and its gelling together nicely. It would be nice to attract some new players for next year and hopefully the town get behind us, not just for Saturday but for the future.”
Saturday’s fixture was originally pencilled in for Ravenhill, but with Ulster fixtures, it has had to be switched, a slight disappointment for the players, but Eastwood says after their disappointing defeat at the hands of Saturday’s opponents, in the McCambley Cup, it doesn’t really matter where it takes place.
“It’s unfortunate we are not getting to play in Ravenhill, with the fixtures for Ulster, but at this stage our boys would play them in their own back garden to get revenge for losing out to them in the McCambley Cup. “
“We have put in a lot of work on the training field over the past three or four years and to take a trophy home on Saturday would top of a great season and it would make all the hard work and effort worthwhile.”
Meanwhile Stephen Rea believes the mood amongst the squad is very good before their big final and that they are very optimistic that they have the players at their disposal to reverse their only defeat this year, especially coming off an impressive victory, last time out, against an experienced Ballymena side.
“Coming off a win, especially against a Ballymena side, who were probably the best team in our league over the past 3 or 4 years, and beaten them on their own turf, coming away with a good win, like a convincing win, everyone is on a high, everyone is positive.”
Rea’s positive approach to the game continued, as he says they will give it their all in preparation, and on the day, to hopefully take that cup back to Cookstown.
“It is a big game for the club, there will be a lot of work put in leading up to the final, making sure everybody is ready and back from injury. We will go there and give it one hundred and ten per cent and hopefully we will come out the better side.”
Owen ‘Oggie’ Mallon says his sides only defeat this year would still hurt them and that he also believes they have the ‘firepower’ to beat Ballyclare, pointing to their whitewash result against the same opponents 2 years ago as proof they are every bit as good as them.
“It was a bitter pill to swallow going out against this side in the McCambley Cup, we set out targets at the start of the year, we wanted to win our section which we have accomplished, we didn’t want to concede any defeats in the League, and we wanted to cement ourselves as a good minor team in Ulster Rugby. This will be the third time we have played them in recent years; we put them out in the first round 2 years ago with a heavy defeat, 37-0.”
“Last time out we were confident against them but knew they had a good side, we saw the scores they had been putting up, they put 91 on the Civil Service the week before, so we knew we were going down to a team on high spirits. They sort of done a number on us that day, but we had a couple of injuries and our centre badly hurt himself and couldn’t play. We sort of got caught out so we will be looking to extract revenge. We definitely feel we have the firepower to squeeze past them.”