COOKSTOWN Hockey Club take on Lisnagarvey in the final of the Kirk Cup on Boxing Day at Lisnagarvey Hockey Club. It promises to be an enthralling encounter between two sides who are all too familiar with each other.
Indeed, the Reds faced Garvey in the group stages and were victorious both home and away. In addition, Cookstown have faced the Comber Road outfit twice in the Kirk Cup final over the last decade. On both occasions, the Coolnfranky side have left with the trophy.
Nonetheless co-coach Stephen Cuddy stated that Lisnagarvey will probably go into the tie as favourites.
“Garvey probably go into the game as favourites but we feel we can give anyone in Ireland a good game.”
Cookstown have scored a staggering 60 goals over the Kirk Cup campaign and will go into the final knowing that they have the fire-power to trouble Lisnagarvey on their home patch.
Co-coach Michael Haylock will be hoping for yet more success at Lisnagarvey Hockey Club. The Cookstown High School coach recently led his team to the McCullough Cup final.
“The Kirk Cup is a very special competition for us and with the change in format, it has been even greater a challenge to try and get to the final. We were drawn in a difficult pool but fortunately we got through the group stage comfortably enough.”
Haycock is under no illusion how difficult the game is going to be but is looking forward to a tight contest between two talented sides.
For the likes of Ryan Millar and Jonny Ames this will be their first ever final. However, Reds co-coach Stephen Cuddy is a Kirk Cup veteran. Cuddy has played in four and the Boxing Day final will be his third as coach.
“Being in the Kirk Cup final for the fourth consecutive year just makes Christmas for us as a club. We are coming off the back of a disappointing league campaign but with cup games we know form goes out the window.”
Cookstown will be without the services of talented teenager Ian Sloan, who misses out due to an allocated rest period of Irish internationals ahead of the Olympic Qualifiers.
Cuddy admitted that Cookstown will miss Sloan and the absence of injured skipper Godfrey Irwin will spur the Reds onto victory.
“We miss Godfrey in our team but he will be there and I know the boys will do everything to get the skipper another medal.”
Keith Black is the stand in captain for the Kirk Cup final and he also stated that Cookstown would prefer to have Irwin back in their panel.
“For me personally, it is a bitter sweet moment as I will be captaining the side for the first time in a major final. However, I would much rather have Godfrey leading us out and helping me out in defence.”
Black was quick to point out how important the Cookstown supporters will be on the day. The Red Army travel in numbers to games and they will be making plenty of noise on Boxing Day.
“I truly believe we have one of the best supported teams in the country and I hope we can repay them with a good performance on Monday.”