Cookstown start campaign with a win

Cookstown RFC 55 Ballynahinch RFC 5

On Saturday 10th September Cookstown RFC commenced their Minor league programme against a spirited and youthful Ballynahinch side in front of a sizeable crowd at the Mid Ulster Sports Arena.

Played in sunny conditions, Cookstown elected to play the first half with the strong wind on their backs. Straight from the kickoff, some forceful running from the Cookstown pack put the Hinch front eight on the backfoot. Dominance at scrum time and lineout laid the foundations for the first try of the day when team captain Ryan Eastwood benefited from a ball taken against the head to touch down behind the posts. Outhalf Ciaran Currie converted.

Throughout the game the Cookstown team displayed a strong work ethic by supporting each other in the tackle, making big hits and clearing rucks. One occasion saw prop Owen Mallon turn over a ball which was sent across the backline for Mickey McKeown to score behind the posts.

Cookstown would have doubled their try count shortly after only for some poor handling and passing letting the side down. But credit to the lads, they stuck to the game plan and gaps started to appear in the Hinch defence.

Midway through the half, scrum half Daryl Donaghy passed to the barging JP Reah who forced his way through a half gap to score behind the posts. Not one for many words, JP got up after scoring, dusted off some Hinch defenders and told the lads he wanted another one!!

Five minutes later, following rare forage into the Cookstown 22, Hinch were penalised for holding on. The ball was kicked to touch and the Cookstown pack drove into the Hinch 22. Slick hands and good movement from the Cookstown backs saw the ball arrive in the hands of Denver ‘Dangerous’ Nugent who raced past the Hinch defence and score in the corner.

Near the end of the half, seasoned campaigner Chris ‘The Unit’ Moore showed the young bucks how it was done by smashing a Hinch ruck to turn over the ball. The ball was quickly spun to the supporting forwards where the once exiled Adam Stinson showed great strength and speed to carry ball and two defenders over the try line and score.

Cookstown played into the wind for the second half.

The team appeared to take their foot off the pedal which allowed Hinch to apply some pressure. Two minutes into the half, team captain received a yellow card for a dangerous tackle close to the Cookstown try line. Luckily the lads dug deep and repelled a series of attacks.

Some substitutions helped to fresh the team up. Richard Brown came on in the front row and made his presence felt at the rucks while Stevie Quinn slotted seamlessly into the wing position.

Following some aerial pingpong, outhalf Ciaran Currie sent up a huge Garryowen. Out of the blocks went winger and local bank official Mickey McKeown, who showed some brilliant skill to collect the ball like a banker’s bonus cheque, and outpace two Hinch defenders like they were asking for a mortgage and score behind the posts. Eight minutes later, and to prove it was no fluke, Mickey repeated the feat to score another brilliant try.

The final Cookstown try of the day was the result of some fine counter rucking from Chris Moore who rescued a rare lost lineout. Some quick thinking from No.8 JP Reah saw him pick and go to touch down beside the posts.

Following several injuries, Cookstown finished the game with 14 men and saw their line come under pressure. Three penalties in quick succession for ill discipline at rucks, going off feet saw Hinch set up base deep in the Cookstown 22. A sure try was held up by replacement winger Stevie Quinn on the Line. However from the resultant scrum the numerical advantage counted as Hinch scored consolation try in corner. Conversion missed and the referee sounded the final whistle.

This was a fine performance from Cookstown, who showed plenty of promise in attack and physicality in the tackle. However it was not the complete performance this squad has the potential to deliver. Team Captain Ryan Eastwood although pleased to start the league campaign with a win commented that there was still plenty to work on in training.

Team manager Mark Brown awarded the Man of the Match award to scrumhalf Daryl Donaghy. Unfortunately Daryl was not allowed to come out with the boys to celebrate his award but I am sure there will be plenty of other opportunities as the season progresses.

Training continues on Mondays and Wednesdays at 7pm Drapersfield. New players are welcome.

The club would like to express its thanks to Mulligans Bar Cookstown for hosting the post match gathering and to Brown Sugar for sponsoring the post match food.