Back to domestic action for Reds

TO get the full value of their first ever European Hockey League experience Cookstown really need to make sure they qualify for the competition again as soon as possible.

And their games in the next three weeks will determine whether than can do it at the first available opportunity.

There are two avenues into Europe’s elite competition with the winners of the Irish Hockey League and Irish Senior Cup qualifying for the prestigious event.

Cookstown have already made an excellent start to this season’s IHL competition with a 4-2 home win over Banbridge - Ireland’s other representatives in Antwerp.

But there is still much work to do to ensure a top two finish in the six-team pool and the subsequent semi-final berth which goes with it.

The Reds are at home to Monkstown on Saturday (3pm), with a trip to another Dublin side Glenanne the following weekend (November 5).

Both games will go a long way towards determining whether Cookstown can progress in the competition - with trips to Cork Harlequins and Instonians to follow in the New Year.

Saturday’s clash with Monkstown is a repeat of last season’s Irish Senior Cup final which the Reds won 4-3 after a thriller in Dublin.

“Monkstown are in form going into this game after they beat Instonians 4-0 in their first game, but we feel that we are also playing well,” said Cookstown coach Stephen Cuddy.

“Because of the European experience we should be further down the line than some of the other teams and we have something like 22 games under our belt this season.

“Monkstown will be out to avenge last season’s cup final defeat, but apart from Godfrey Irwin our squad is all fit and well and we feel we are in decent form after our EHL trip.”

Following the back-to-back IHL games, Cookstown then begin the defence of the Irish Senior Cup on November 12 with a home tie against Banbridge in the last 16.

If all goes according to plan for the Reds those two paths back into Europe will still be open after that date.