Thom-inspired Fives come back from 4-1 down to win

TACKLE... Cookstown's Godfrey Irwin tackles back during last Saturday's league clash with Kilkeel at Coolnafranky.INMM4312-331SR
TACKLE... Cookstown's Godfrey Irwin tackles back during last Saturday's league clash with Kilkeel at Coolnafranky.INMM4312-331SR

Cookstown V 7

NICS IV 4

An in form Cookstown side welcomed NICS to Coolnafranky for what was an enthralling match.

It was the Belfast men that broke the deadlock with a good breakaway goal to put them 1-0 up. Shortly after, it was 2-0 when a short corner routine ended up in the back of the net, despite Cookstown protests that the ball had never left the circle.

With this injustice hurting the home side, they went up the pitch, almost straight from the hit off, and a good ball into the circle from Cuddy was finished off by McWhirter to make it 2-1, game on!

However, the Cookstown men seemed over confident and some sloppy play at the back allowed Service in to restore the 2 goal advantage. Soon after it was 4-1, this time there was no doubt as the short corner was excellently finished off.

Just before the break, NICS had a great chance for their fifth with the forward having the entire goal to aim at keeper Gillis pulled off what he described as, ‘the third best save’ of his career. As it was, it remained 4-1 until half time with the Reds seemingly on the ropes.

Some inspirational words at half time from first XI coach Cuddy, captain Sanderson and Alistair Thom sent Cookstown into the second half as a revitalised team.

Knowing that an early goal would put them back in the game, the home side applied some heavy pressure and it was no surprise when the Fives top scorer Smyth nipped in to score and restore some belief into the Reds.

The home side continued with relentless pressure and Service’s lead was soon reduced to one when the impressive Alistair Thom placed a drag flick in the top right corner. The momentum was now with the Reds, with the impressive Thom in midfield pulling the strings and it was no surprise when he added his second, again from a short corner, to equalise. The home side weren’t content to settle for a draw and pressed on for the goal that would give them the lead.

Good work down the left from Leonard and Crooks allowed Leonard in for the shot which was finished off at the back post by Nelson to give Cookstown the lead they deserved. This goal seemed to demoralise NICS and a wonder goal from Crooks followed by another for McWhirter finished the second half rout to leave the final score line at an impressive 7-4.

A great come back from the lads and three very hard earned points to keep the fives at the summit of the league.

Cookstown V: A. Gillis, W. Reilly, S. Otterson, N. Barnes, C. Sanderson, G. Leonard, A. Thom, C. Anderson, S. Nelson, S, Cuddy, J. McWhirter, M. Crooks, P. Morrow, M. Smyth, G. Thom

Man of the Match: Al Thom

Thanks to Brian Thom for umpiring.

Cookstown II 5

Banbridge II 5

A veritable game of two halves at Coolnafranky on Saturday saw Cookstown and Banbridge split ten goals between them in an entertaining draw.

After an early spell of Bann pressure, Cookstown played some of their best hockey for a number of years to sprint to a 4-1 lead.

Richard Nelson was the first to score when a beautiful move down the right hand side saw Ian Johnston sprint into space. Swapping passes with little brother, Tony, he found Nelson with a pinpoint pass before the midfielder beat the Bann keeper with a powerful push.

Davey Atkinson then put away a trademark drag before Ross McCandless got Banbridge on the scoresheet from the set piece.

Cookstown continued to play some beautiful hockey, probing down each side of the field before Nelson delivered a powerful cross which Philip Morton deflected past Bingham in the Bann goals.

Nelson was to prove the hero again when smashing interplay by Stevie Allen and Ian Johnston saw the schoolboy make great progress down the byline where Nelson, after a box-to-box sprint, met the ball first time on the half-volley to make it 4-1

A combination of Cookstown switching off and Bann throwing extra numbers into the midfield saw the visitors turn the game on its head with four goals in quick succession, three from the short corner set piece.

But Cookstown were to have the final say when Gavin Butler pinched the ball and, with Bann committed, released Ryan Millar to gallop forward. Again Nelson burst forward in support and was on hand to send an early cross into the Bann area where man of the match Tony Johnston tapped home to make it 5-5.

Cookstown II: Michael Anderson, David Atkinson, Gavin Butler, Daniel Crooks, Mark Wilson, Andrew Ferguson, Andrew Mcwhirter, Richard Nelson, Philip Morton, Tony Johnston, Steven Allen, Ian Johnston And Ryan Millar

Man of the Match: Tony Johnston, just ahead of the double goalscorer Nelson.

Many thanks to Stevie Hamilton for umpiring this game.

Cookstown IV 0

Bangor III 4

Cookstown IV welcomed an unbeaten Bangor team to Coolnafranky on Saturday in their first home match of the season.

The Reds knew it would be a tough game, but were optimistic and hoped to add to their points tally for the season. It wasn’t long before the Reds optimism disintegrated.

The Bangor side passed the ball with confidence and were smart with their possession whereas the home team misplaced passes all over the park.

Cookstown’s only chance of the half fell to Captain Crooks as he dragged his reverse stick shot wide of the goals. Some good defensive work from Razor Rudduck and Bebop Simpson kept the game all square until late in the half when a hopeful Bangor ball was crashed into the dee only for the unlucky Gillis in nets to deflect the ball into his own net.

If Cookstown felt sorry for themselves after this, the feeling only accelerated shortly after when Bebop tried to clear the danger only to find his own net.

The Reds looked to put the first half behind them and started the second half brightly winning their first short corners of the game. The away side dealt with the pressure and were quick to turn defense into attack as the scored their third goal on a swift counter attack.

With the game all but over, a fourth goal sealed the victory for the visiting team, ensuring a pleasant drive home up the M1 and a bitter taste in the mouths of the fourth eleven.

Cookstown IV: Gillis, Major, Simpson, Rudduck, McAllen, Hutchinson, McWhirter, Stewart, Agnew, Crooks, Smyth, Mire, Johnston

Man of the Match: Gary Major

Thanks to Les Allen for umpiring.

Congratulations froom everyone at CHC to Cookstown Fr. Rocks on their win in the County Intermediate Chamionship final