Kirk Cup triumph is just the start for Cookstown

COOKSTOWN coach Stephen Cuddy insists his players are hungry for more trophies this season and won’t be resting on their laurels after Boxing Day’s Kirk Cup final win at Havelock Park.

“I thought we started well against ‘Garvey and the hunger was there to be seen” he said.

“You look at likes of Godfrey Irwin - he’s been out for a year with injury but he was outstanding today.

“Andy Barbour controls things from the centre of midfield week in week out and we have guys in forward line who can get us goals.

“Our form’s been a little bit patchy but we have proved we can mix it with the big guns.

“I am very, very pleased and hopefully can be a little bit more consistent and improve our league form.

“We will then start building towards April and the Irish Hockey League - I dont think the boys will be happy with just the one trophy so we will really push on and see if we get can something else this season.

Cookstown’s veteran midfielder Barbour, who is now 35, added that the win didn’t seem as comfortable as it looked form the sidelines.

“We wanted to start the game at a tough pace and I think we did that. We could have been a goal or two more up before we got our second.” he explained.

“They obviously came back into it. They are a very good team and they’re in the last 16 in Europe.

“We held on a wee bit at times but at other times we could have scored more goals on the counter attack.

“Overall I think we deserved it but it certainly wasn’t comfortable. I think we controlled it. Maybe their top players didn’t play as well as they could but we had them marked well.

“It sets down a marker and six years ago if someone said Cookstown would be winning league and cups you’d have laughed but we’ve won the Kirk Cup and it’s fantastic.”

Cookstown swept to an unexpectedly comfortable win over the holders, the game not quite matching its billing - not that the Tyrone side will be too concerned about that.

The horrendous weather didn’t help as many spectators opted to stay at home, nor did the fact the game was moved to Banbridge after an appeal to have the venue switched from ‘Garvey’s home ground.

Cookstown were so dominant throughout most of the 70 minutes that they restricted Lisnagarvey to just two shots on target, one of which provided their consolation goal.

But by the time Timmy Cockram’s shot entered the with four minutes left the game was over as a contest as Cookstown were by far the better team on the day.

Their movement and passing was superior to the Hillsborough side’s as ‘Garvey failed to stamp any semblance of authority on the game from start to finish.

Cookstown put down an early marker almost straight from the push back as a terrific run by John Ames had ‘Garvey goalkeeper John Tormey racing off his line to avert the danger.

Four minutes later Cookstown, who started the game at a lightning pace, earned themselves the first penalty corner of the match but it came to nothing.

The opening goal arrived in the 21st minute and it was the impressive Ames who set it up as his astute pass left Stuart Smyth with a relatively straightforward finish from five yards out.

Little had been seen of the Lisnagarvey attack but from one foray forward in the 25th minute, Andy Forrest passed to Peter MacDonnell but his reverse stick shot flew wide of the target.

‘Garvey fans would have been hoping for a much improved second half display and things looked brighter for them when their side forced their first set-piece within 60 seconds of the restart.

But Stevie Arbuthnot’s shot from Jonny Bell’s delivery was comfortably dealt with by Ian Hughes in the Cookstown goal.

Cookstown made it 2-0 in the 50th minute when Ames was again on hand to provide the assist this time for Gareth Cuddy who fired home.

And, with 11 minutes remaining and the ‘Garvey defence under pressure, Cookstown were awarded a penalty stroke for an offence in the circle and Keith Black did a confident job from the spot.

Then Simon Todd set up Stephen Sloan whose shot went just wide and Smyth’s effort hit the side-netting as Cookstown continued to have the lion’s share of possession.

But it was ‘Garvey who at last gave their fans something to cheer about when Cockram slammed home his team’s second corner of the game in the 66th minute. But it was too little, too late.

Cookstown: Ian Hughes; Godfrey Irwin, Ewan Butler, Simon Todd, Andrew Barbour, Stephen Sloan, David Best, John Ames, Greg Allen, Stuart Smyth, Keith Black; subs: Matthew Rollins, Ryan Millar, Gareth Cuddy, Paul Thompson, Andrew McWhirter, Mark Rooney, Michael Anderson.

Lisnagarvey: John Tormey; Brian Waring, Stevie Arbuthnot, Jonny Bell, Richard Arneill, Jonny Quigley, Peter MacDonnell, Daniel Buser, Stuart McNeice, Mark Raphael, Timmy Cockram; subs: Greg Thompson, Andy Forrest, Peter Bland, James Dowling, Phil Stirling.

Umpires: Les Allen and Colin Hutchinson.