Stephen Cuddy reflects on Keightley Cup success

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COOKSTOWN 1st XI co-coach Stephen Cuddy was delighted to bring the Premier League trophy to Coolnfrankey for the fourth time in five season.

“The hard work started in July and we had a gruelling pre-season schedule with sixteen games before the league got under way. We also had to contend with preparing for the EHL.”

It was a life changing experience for the Reds in Antwerp and unfortunately the Reds lost the services of captain Godfrey Irwin, who sustained a fractured skull at the EHL.

“The biggest downer of the season was coming back from Antwerp knowing that Godfrey Irwin, our captain, would miss the majority if not all of the season after sustaining a fractured skull in our game against Amsterdam. Godfrey is not only a brilliant captain but he is a fantastic defender and we knew he would be a massive miss for us at the heart of our defence.”

Co-coaches Stephen Cuddy and Michael Haycock had to reshuffle their defensive line and it took a few matches for the new look defence to settle in.

Despite the reshuffle, Cookstown soon got back to playing exciting and attacking hockey.

“The obvious highs of the season were the six points against Banbridge and that stunning first half against Annadale. We scored so many goals in every game and any team that can score an average of five goals a game must be doing something right.”

The current Cookstown squad has an excellent mix of youth and experience. Andy Barbour has led by example in centre midfield and the Sloan brothers either side of him have played some sublime hockey.

“In my opinion we have the best midfield in Ireland. Our forwards have all weighed in with alot of goals with Greg Allen having 23 and Timmy Smyth, Gareth Cuddy scoring 18 each and Mark Crooks scoring 14.”

“Defensively we are very quick and dynamic. Ian Hughes (GK) David Best and Ewan Butler are the spine of the team and with Keith Black, Matthew Rollins and Paul Thompson we have three players that are excellent at attacking down each flank.”

“This is not the end of the current season for the Reds, they still have two vital IHL games to play for, away to Cork and Instonians. The Anderson Cup Super 9s is also sandwiched in between the two IHL ties, so there is still plenty of silverware up for the grabs.”

“We are looking forward to the rest of the season and hopefully we can perhaps get our hands on some more silverware

“Thanks must go to our families and supporters who support us through thick and thin. They are getting a little harder to please but I suppose that is the price of success.”

“I would also like to thank our main sponsors Millar, Shearer and Black who have been with us since 1994! Thanks also to RT Autoparts who have came on board as sponsors prior to our European adventure. Thanks so much for your support throughout the season.”

“Finally this year we have for the first time partnered with a charity the Alzemiers Society, we are proud to have your logo embroidered on our sleeves.”