Amid rumours of player retirements and defections to soccer, Cookstown Hockey have had a good pre-season with convincing wins over South Antrim, Belfast Harlequins and Portadown under their belt.
Whilst these victories were expected the management have been blooding fringe players to give them a taste of action at this level.
The pre-season action continues this weekend when the Reds face some top quality opposition from across the water.
Southgate, Doncaster and Glasgow Western will all participate in a round robin event at Steelweld Park as the intensity builds towards the start of the season.
Former Cookstown player Timmy Smyth now plays for Southgate who will come over to Cookstown for their first time. This will be Doncaster’s third visit as they have played in the Nigel Cheevers Tournament a couple of times, and Glasgow Western visited last year for a couple of games against the Reds.
Saturday August 31
Cookstown v Doncaster (10am)
Glasgow Western (12 noon)
Glasgow Western (4pm)
Cookstown v Southgate (6pm)
Sunday September 1
Doncaster v Southgate
Glasgow Western (1pm)
Cookstown co-coach Stephen Cuddy said, “It says a lot for the hospitality and reputation of Cookstown Hockey Club as a whole that all three teams actually contacted Cookstown requesting games.
“No other club would have had such an intense pre-season. The teams coming over this weekend are all top quality and we will be severely tested - and all this before our annual Steelweld Fabrications sponsored Nigel Cheevers Tournament where more quality teams from Scotland, England and Wales will be in attendance.
“Our players will get used to playing against top rated sides where speed of thought and correct pass selection will be vital and hopefully all this will stand us in good stead as we begin the defence of the Kirk Cup on September 10.”
The club would encourage as many people as possible to come up to Steelweld Park to see some top class games and also visit the clubhouse where food and refreshments will be available throughout the day.