Cookstown were crowned Ravenhill Cup winners on Saturday with a hard fought win over a dogged and determined Ballynahinch Evergreens side.
Against the toughest opposition they have faced, the Cookstown men had to pull out all the stops to secure victory.
Photographs kindly supplied by Daron Patterson.
The opening quarter was dominated by the experienced Hinch outfit. Their forwards took the game to Cookstown and opened the scoring after 15 minutes with a well worked try in the corner.
Cookstown had the opportunity to respond via a penalty but it was missed. They didn’t panic and the forwards gave Hinch a taste of their own medicine with a driving maul from a line-out, resulting in a touchdown for Kyle Campton, converted for a 7-5 lead after a bruising first half.
Cookstown came out strongly and, despite another missed penalty, Cookstown managed to stretch their lead with a try from Andrew Reid following a chip through from Ciaran McKenna. Cookstown took their foot off the pedal as the Hinch out half began to pin them back in their own 22.
Following sustained pressure, they managed to close the gap to 12-8 with a penalty in front of the posts.
This was as close as they got to overturning the deficit as Cookstown went down field and Daniel McElroy scored a trademark try to secure the title for his side.
The final five minutes were nervy but Cookstown managed to close the game out, the final whistle met with great celebrations from the players.
A delighted Liam Currie and Kezzy Nugent lifted the trophy and Currie said: “It was another full blooded affair against a hardy and very streetwise Hinch team.
“I thought things looked ominous in the opening 15 minutes, line-out malfunctioning and Hinch dragging us into a close quarter game.
“However, conceding an early try proved to be the shot in the arm we needed, the boys lifted themselves to play on their terms and respond with an excellent set-piece move.
“It was only a matter of time before we managed to break away for another two after inspirational words from Plunkett McCallan at the break.
“This is the very least these boys deserved, their commitment unreal. When the wheels threatened to come off following the cup exit, they knuckled down with a new impetus.
“That was in no small part down to the role Stewart McCalmont played. He saw a weakness in conditioning and whipped the boys into shape in such a small space of time, fitness clearly the difference.
“It’s great to get a cup in our 25th year which coincides with the same anniversary of main sponsors, Keystone and Keylite, Sean Coyle a longstanding member of the club.
“I thank sponsors and local businesses for financial support and loyal photographer Daron Paterson for the pictures” added the delighted Cookstown director of rugby.