ON Saturday 27 August Cookstown Rugby Club took part in the annual Randalstown RFC tournament. The team were drawn in a tough group which included hosts Randalstown RFC, Ophir RFC and Ballymena 3rd XV.
Given that each of these teams competes in leagues several levels above Cookstown and that ten of the 1stXV were unavailable, the odds were against the boys to qualify from their group.
The opening game against Ophir was a tale two halves. For most of the first half the Cookstown try line was under sustained attack from a well drilled and organised Ophir team. However the lads dug deep with Captain Ryan Eastwood, JP Reah, the returning Chris Moore and Martin Boone all to the fore. Unfortunately in the dying minutes of the first half, an uncharacteristic error saw Ophir sneak in for a converted try.
The second half saw the tables turn as Cookstown lay siege to the Ophir try line for the entire half. Unfortunately the lads were unable to convert this pressure into points and Ophir scraped through to claim the points.
In the second game Cookstown faced Ballymena. Earlier this year Ballymena’s 5th XV knocked Cookstown out of the McCambley cup, so a must win game against Ballymena’s 3rd XV would surely be a tall order. However, and against all odds, the boys put in a fantastic team performance by totally dominating the bigger Ballymena side in both defence and attack. Tries from Ciaran Hagan, Kevin McMahon and Liam Currie gave Cookstown a well deserved 17-0 win.
Unfortunately due to the format of the leagues, Cookstown had to play back to back fixtures and their final game was against hosts Randalstown. Clearly affected by fatigue and injuries, the boys went down to a 15-0 defeat. Consequently the team were eliminated from the competition by virtue of point’s difference.
Although the team did not qualify for the semi finals, captain Ryan Eastwood had high praise for his charges.
“Despite missing so many players, the lads really fronted up today and played for the shirt. I am very proud of each and every one that turned up.”
Training continues at 7pm on Mondays and Wednesdays, a challenge game has been arranged with Derry YM on Saturday 3 September to prepare the boys for the big league kick off against Ballynahinch on 10 September.