Hockey: Cookstown High School starlets fail to sparkle at Irish Schools’ event

The Cookstown High school squad that competed in this year's Irish Schools' Hockey Tournament
The Cookstown High school squad that competed in this year's Irish Schools' Hockey Tournament

Cookstown High School 2 Wallace High School 3

Cookstown went into their first game knowing that they would have to beat a talented Wallace side to give themselves a good chance of getting through their group.

The game started slowly with both teams trying to gain a foothold in the match. However, it was Wallace who broke the deadlock with their winger tipping in at the back post. Cookstown grew into the game as the half wore on, with Donaldson and Anderson both going close, but they were unable to find an equaliser before half time.

Cookstown started the second period with a high intensity and their constant pressure was rewarded with a short corner which Nelson duly dispatched with an accurate drag flick.

Unfortunately Cookstown were unable to hold on to their lead for long as sloppy defending resulted in two swift Wallace goals.

Cookstown got themselves back into the game with slick passing between Donaldson and Johnston, picking out Anderson in the circle,who swept the ball past the Wallace keeper.

The Tyrone boys pushed hard for an equaliser with Nelson going close with another drag flick, but they were unable to find the back of the net again and the Cookstown boys were left disappointed wondering what could have been.

Cookstown High School 3

Mount Temple School 3

After the defeat to Wallace, a win against Dublin school Mount Temple was essential if Cookstown were to progress.

The team started strongly in front of a massive crowd of over 500 Mount Temple supporters. Tony Johnston played Donaldson through to open the scoring with a cool finish.

However, Mount Temple soon responded and when a drag flick was stopped on the line by a Cookstown foot, the resulting stroke left the lead in danger. Yet Anderson pulled out a fine stop to deny the Dubliners. It wasn’t until the last second of the first half that Mount Temple equalised, with another fierce drag flick.

Cookstown pushed forward after the break and were unfortunate to concede from a Mount Temple counter attack. Spurred on by their home support, Mount Temple scored again, as their forward beat Anderson with a driven reverse.

Down but certainly not out, Cookstown tightened up in defence and focused on reducing the 3-1 deficit. It was not until five minutes from the end that they were able to respond. A slick short corner saw Nelson sweep home from the penalty spot.

In a frantic finish, Johnston won another penalty corner and this time it was substitute Daniel McCord who finished a well-worked move at the back post.

However, in the remaining seconds, a winner eluded Cookstown and despite a strong comeback, Cookstown were unable to find a fourth goal.

Cookstown High School 2

Villiers School 0

After a disappointing start to the competition Cookstown left themselves in a position were it was impossible to qualify, however a good game was vital.

The team slowly built themselves into the game with good chances to take the lead. However soon they were reduced to 10 when CallumAnderson received a yellow card for dissent.

The Limerick team took advantage of their extra man and forced The Cookstown defence to really focus and work hard. Soon after,with the team back to full strength, fine build up play down the right channel started by Ferguson linking with Donaldson left T.Johnston volleying home from the flick spot. 1-0 at half time and Cookstown were controlling the game.

Villiers, needing to salvage something from the game, threw everything at the Cookstown defence early in the half, winning multiple short corners all saved by Josh Anderson and his men on the line.

As Cookstown began to play their way back into the half they won short corners of their own and with specialist Nelson off the field, Callum Anderson finished off a 1-2 at the top of the circle with a good shot low to the keeper’s left.

As constant pressure left Cookstown vulnerable to the counter Josh Anderson was called up upon to make a few fine saves, the pick of the bunch being a cheeky chip at the the near post. Remaining calm and composed Cookstown closed out the game with a solid victory.

Cookstown High School 4

Newpark Comprehensive 1

After struggling to get up to play their fourth game in three days, the boys got into the bus and had a long journey to St Andrews.

After a slow warm-up, the game got going and Cookstown got straight into Newpark’s final quarter of the the pitch and applied wave after wave of attack but they were unable to put put the ball in the back of the net.

This continued for the next 10 minutes with Cookstown still unable to break the deadlock. Eventually McCord remedied this by smoothly upright reversing the ball into the net past a bemused Newpark keeper.

Newpark made a few vital subs and the games intensity rose with the possession veering slightly in favour of Cookstown who were still unable to find the back of the net and extend their lead. Finally, five minutes before the half time whistle, after some nice interlinking work between Donaldson and the Johnston twins, Ian Johnston placed the ball home.

Cookstown came out after half time with some confident play and linked the ball nicely throughout the whole pitch. Timmy Sloan played an important role from right back overlapping well and providing an extra man in attack, causing the Newpark defence numerous problems.

This high tempo play paid off with Callum Anderson dispossessing the under pressure Newpark sweeper, and smashing the ball high into the roof of the net.

Cookstown lost their concentration and following some sloppy defending allowed Newpark to quickly counter attack and deny CHS a clean sheet.

Cookstown reacted quickly and forced a short corner in which the first shot was unsuccessful but the rebound ended up with Sloan who made no mistake flicking the ball high into the top left hand side of the net. This goal secured Cookstowns win and made a decent end to a brilliant tournament.

CHS: Josh Anderson, S. Nelson, A. Ferguson, T. Sloan, M. Kerr, J. Wensley, T. Johnston, I. Johnston, R. Donaldson, C. Millar, L. Simpson, C. Anderson, D McCord, Joel Anderson, B. McConnell