ON Saturday 7 January, Cookstown made the long journey up the Glenshane Pass to play City of Derry RFC in the second round of the McCambley Cup.
With Derry hosting three games, the match was played on a suspiciously narrow looking third choice pitch.
The game can be best described as a penalty laden affair with Cookstown in particular repeatedly falling foul of the referee’s interpretation of the law. This allowed Derry to repeatedly pressure the Cookstown defence. Fortunately Cookstown were well able to repell eveything that was thrown at them. Indeed the tone was set early in the game and by the nature of the first score which came from the boot following Cookstown’s failure to retreat from a clearance kick. The indiscretion was exacerbated by further dissent which resulted in the penalty being moved closer to the posts and duly converted.
This appeared to spark Cookstown into life. A series of promising runs from Cookstown centres, Kezzy Nugent and Ronan Campbell allowed Cookstown to set up position in the Derry 22. A well taken lineout by Martin Devlin allowed the ball to be spun wide where Neill Thompson made a great run towards the Derry line. From the resultant ruck outhalf Ciaran Ciaran Currie passed inside to prop forward Liam Currie who bashed, sidestepped and pirouetted his way to the try line. The conversion was sucessful.
The second try came as a result of a great hit from number eight Neil Thompson who managed to tun the ball over. Fine interpassing between forwards and backs brought play into the Derry 22. Quick hands from Ryan Eastwood released hooker Stephen Rea who then passed to his BFF Owen Mallon.
Owen then produced a moment of brilliance when he audaciously sold three dummies to four Derry defenders and sprinted over the try line from 20 metres out! Before he got up, Owen updated his facebook status: ‘Owen Mallon is at the try line’. The conversion was missed.
Cookstown kicked off the second half. A good hit on the Derry second row and some fine work at the break down by Martin BOOM led to a penalty in front of the Derry posts. The kick was easily converted by Ciaran Currie. 15-3 to Cookstown.
There then followed a period of sustained pressure on the Cookstown line. With Martin Devlin lording the lineouts all day, Derry opted not to kick any penalties into touch but to run at the Cookstown defence. However, Cookstown stood their ground manfully by repelling and series of drives. The games third try came from some excellent defending from the Cookstown backs.
Derry attacked deep in the Cookstown 22, a quick and aggressive defensive line lead to Derry spilling the ball. An excellent pick up from Ciaran McKenna allowed him to sprint the length of the pitch and touch down under the posts. Outhalf Ciaran Currie was successful with the conversion.
Cookstown’s fourth score came following some fine hands by the backs which put winger Denver Nugent in space where he had no hesitation in sprinting in. The conversion was unsuccessful. The fifth score was almost a mirror image of the previous except the opposite winger, Conor Harte dotted down in the corner. The conversion was missed. The final whistle soon followed.
Similar to the Ophir game, Cookstown’s defence saw them through this game. Whilst the mood was that the team didn’t perform well, a 32-3 scoreline would suggest otherwise. But its a true testament to these boys that they considered the performance to be below par and the need for improvement. This can only be done at training on Monday and Wednesday nights.
Man of the Match went to Neil Thompson in his penultimate game for the club.
Team: Forwards - Currie, Rea, Mallon, Devlin, Parks, BOOM, Eastwood, Thompson. Backs - Rea/Donaghy, Currie, Campbell, Nugent, Nugent. Harte and McKenna, Replacements: Brown, Workman, Reah, Barry Loughran, Quinn.
The players would like to thank City of Derry for their kind hospitality after the game and to the ever present and committed local photographer, Daron Patterson for providing coverage once again.