Draw secures IHL semi final spot for Reds

Cookstown players try to crowd out an Instonians attack during their thrilling 3-3 draw IHL group game
Cookstown players try to crowd out an Instonians attack during their thrilling 3-3 draw IHL group game
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Instonians 3 Cookstown 3

COOKSTOWN remain on track for a second successive year in Europe after securing their place in the semi finals of the IHL for the first time. The winner of the IHL will qualify for Europe.

Cookstown face Lisnagarvey in the semi final at the Comber Road venue. The winner of this will face either Dublin YM or Monkstown in the final which will also be played at the home of Lisnagarvey.

In their final group game The Reds started slowly at Shaws Bridge against an Instonians side that had taken maximum league points from the Reds during the season. The first quarter of this game was pretty non-eventful as both sides sussed each other out and chances were at a premium.

Cookstown, as in the previous weeks game, then took control of the second quarter. From a penalty corner Timmy Smyth did well to retain possession and after beating a couple of defenders pushed the ball to the back post where David Best applied the finishing touch. Before half-time Ian Sloan continued his goal rush with a superb reverse strike which left the home keeper with no chance.

Into the third quarter and Cookstown were looking to seal the game. However, they suffered a set back when Mark Irwin beat Ian Hughes with a bullet of a snapshot out of nothing. William Robinson then equalised for the Belfast side when he netted from a penalty corner.

Andy Barbour restored Cookstown’s lead when he flicked home from close range after exchanging passes with Stephen Sloan. Mark Crooks and Greg Allen both had chances saved by keeper Skillen as again Cookstown looked to seal the game.

With a couple of minutes remaining Instonians levelled again when a swift counter attack that caught Cookstown napping and James Corry dived to get the final touch. In the final minute Cookstown were awarded a penalty corner. Ian Sloan’s drag was saved and the rebound fell to Barbour who hit the post with his reverse effort.

Cookstown will now take on arch-rivals Lisnagarvey in the IHL semi final at Comber Road on 5th May at 3pm.

The Reds are now two games away from qualifying to play in Europe for the second year in succession. All support at the semi will be greatly appreciated by the team as this long season draws to a close.