A much-changed Cookstown II made the long trip to the Kingdom of Mourne on Saturday and, despite a fantastic performance, went down to a heavy loss.
Schoolboy Josh McCabe starred throughout, making a series of incredible saves, while Dan Crooks, Brett McConnell and Jack Haycock also had superb games on the back foot.
While Kilkeel had access to their Firsts extended squad, Cookstown travelled with the bare eleven and up top Johnny Dingley made his debut for the Second XI alongside his cousin Jack.
The first half was a largely even affair played in summery conditions that left Cookstown, without any substitutes, blowing heavily.
They held out largely thanks to several superb saves by Josh McCabe and the defensive work of McConnell, Haycock, Crooks and Atkinson.
At the other end, Scott McCabe had a low reverse that went just wide before Ryan Donaldson’s shot was well blocked by the keeper.
Minutes into the second half Cookstown found themselves 2-0 down through a short corner and then a long volley out of defence which left Kilkeel’s Aitken one-on-one against McCabe. On both accounts the Reds felt they did not get the rub of the green from the home umpire.
There was no doubting the validity of Kilkeel’s third when, again from the short corner set piece, the Mourne men converted, despite another exceptional save from McCabe.
The killer blow came with ten remaining and Kilkeel tucked away a well taken counterattack.