ON Saturday 17 December, Cookstown RFC travelled to Mount Pleasant Playing Fields to Play Ophir RFC in the first round of the McCambley Cup.
With an excellent playing surface, the state of the art changing facilities at the Boys Model School and the picturesque backdrop provided by the snow covered Cavehill, it was hoped that the boys would put on a inspired performance.
The game kicked off with Cookstown playing with the breeze. The first score of the day came from the boot of outhalf Ciaran Currie following some Ophir in-discipline at the breakdown. Straight from the kick off Cookstown’s demons returned to haunt them as a fluffed clearance resulted in an attacking opportunity and subsequent penalty for Ophir 40 yards out. Fortunately for Cookstown the Ophir outhalf was off target. However, Ophir got another attempt, ten yards closer following a head-stagger from Ryan Eastwood, who tried to charge down the initial penalty. 3-3.
The rest of the half played out with Cookstown laying siege to the Ophir line but basic handling errors cost the team dearly. Highlight of the half was Connor Harte cutting in from his wing to score a well taken try.
The second half continued in much the same fashion with a series of handling errors resulting in Cookstown sustaining pressure. With the wind in their backs and a sizeable crowd offering encouragement, Ophir sensed an upset on the cards and soon set about their task of pressurising the Cookstown back three with well placed kicks. However the no nonsense clearing of the back trio comprising Denver Nugent, Conor Harte and Ciaran McKenna meant the early danger was averted.
It wasn’t until Cookstown decided to run at their opponents that gaps finally appeared. Good back play and support running saw centre Kezzy Niugent go over for two well taken trys. Ten minutes into the second half and Cookstown started to run rampant with the pack dominating the lineout and the backs using their pace to get behind the Ophir defence.
Quick ruck ball allowed for scrum half Daryl to pick and scamper over the try line. Good pressure from outhalf Ciaran Currie saw the Ophir outhalf spill the ball which allowed Ciaran to chip the loose ball ahead to score under the posts. Strong running from second rower Martin Devlin and quick recycling put Denver Nugent through for the last score of the day. At 43-3 and twenty minutes to play,
Ophir raised the white flag and asked the referee to blow the final whistle, much to the disappointment of Cookstown who had travelled far for the game and who had just introduced three replacements who deserved some game time.
Overall, whilst happy with the win, Cookstown did make things difficult for themselves, however, the team must be commended for sticking to their game plan.
Training continues on Wednesday nights at MUSA.
Team: Ciaran McKenna, Denver Nugent, Barry Loughran, Conor Harte, Ronan Campbell, Kezzt Nugent, Ciaran Currie, Dave Weir, Daryl Donaghy, Liam Currie, Owen Mallon, Stephen Rea. JP Reah, Kevin Parke, Adam Stinson Marty Devlin, Martin Boom, Gavin Stinson, Richard Brown, Neil Thompson, Ryan Eastwood.
The team are delighted to end the year on top of their league and in the second round of the cup. We would like to thank all supporters for coming out to cheer the boys on throughout the year and in particular local photographer Daron Patterson for his expert coverage of the boys. We would like to wish all our supporters, sponsors and members a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.