NEXT weekend Cookstown Hockey Club make their long awaited return to European competition, as the Mens 1st XI travel to Antwerp to take part in the prestigious European Hockey League.
It is certainly an exciting time for all involved at Coolnafrankey and coach Stephen Cuddy is thoroughly looking forward to their two fixtures next weekend.
“Preparations have gone well. We have worked incredibly hard in training and the squad are looking forward to it immensely,” he said.
However, despite all the hype over the much awaited trip to Antwerp, Cuddy was quick to point out that the EHL is not their sole focus this season.
“We see it as a reward for all the hard work which we did in both training and the matches last season.
“The EHL is not our sole focus. It is an exciting time for the club but we will be going out there and enjoy ourselves and on our return, make sure we are focused on our domestic hockey as well.”
Cookstown are making their first appearance on a European stage since 1988 and many of the young squad were not even born when the last side participated in a European competition.
Stephen said: “It is hard to believe that it is 23 years since we last appeared on a European stage. We have a very young squad and many of the squad were not even born the last time Cookstown Hockey Club played on a European stage.
“Make no doubt about it. It is going to very tough. It like the equivalent of a non league side going to Manchester United and trying to get a result.”
Cookstown start the tournament with a game against Reading on the 21st October with a 1pm start. The following day they will face one of the favourites for the tournament, Amsterdam HC.