With the bad weather and closure of pitches, Cookstown Seniors have not kicked a competitive ball in over three months in Ballymena and District Division Two.
But last Saturday at the Fairhill, Ballynure Old Boys were the visitors in what can only be described as classic game of football.
Both teams came into the game as possible contenders to win this division. Ballynure themselves brought up several of their first teamers who are riding high at the top of the Ballymena Intermediate League, but the local men were not going to have a big say in the game.
Barrie Kelly, a new signing for the club in the January transfer window, was making his debut for Cookstown. Kelly, who has one of the longest throws in Irish football, was using it to great effect.
On 15 minutes Kelly threw one of his missiles into the box and there was Glasgow unmarked and, as casually as you like, blasted the ball into the net to put the hosts 1-0 up.
Several good crosses were put in by Doyle into the box, but there was just no final touch at the end of each cross. Danny McElhatton came in for the missing James Leslie was having a stormer of a game.
He was containing Ricky Higgins and there seemed to be no way past the Cookstown defence for Ballynure. The match at times was scrappy in the first half but it was the Youth who were making all the chances.
The second half started with the seniors on the front foot again. A corner by Kelly was met by the head of McKenna and his effort came back of the cross bar.
Just when Cookstown were getting into their rhythmn Ballynure clawed their way back into the game. A free kick into the box left the referee pointing to the penalty spot, much to CYFC’s chagrin. Houston sent Gareth McElhatton in goal the wrong way.
Cookstown dusted themselves down and took the game back to Ballynure and within minutes they too were awarded a penalty when Doyle was brutally chopped down. The Ballynure keeper made a super save and keep the scores level.
Kelly on the left was making telling runs and it was the debutante man who set up the next goal. Thundering down the left flank he cut inside two midfielders and left the right back for dead and then put in a cross to which Aiden Doyle coming in from the right hand side. He reached out with the outside of his right foot and curled the ball into the net.
Just when all was under control, Cookstown gifted a goal to Ballynure. Dardis, the veteran centre half, seemed have a ball covered and was waiting for McElhatton in goal to come out. But amidst the confusion Sterling on the right wing sneaked in and put the ball into the net to level up the game.
Doyle was replaced with speed merchant Mark Larmour and this young lad made an immediate impact. He blistered down the right flank and put in some telling crosses but McMenemey could not get himself on the end of them.
With Cookstown pushing for the winner it was Ballynure who broke away and caught the back four napping. Higgins got in to make the score 2-3 to the visitors.
Cookstown threw everything at the Ballynure goal. With the ball getting stuck in the ground in the six yard box it was Ryan Glasgow and his poacher’s instinct who put his foot on the ball and rounded the keeper and put the ball into the net to level up the score to 3-3. That was the last kick of the game.
This Saturday 13th February, Cookstown Youth Seniors travel to Doagh to play Ballyclare Northend.