Reds close in on Keightley Cup

Annadale 1 Cookstown 7

THE destiny of the Keightley Cup is now in Cookstown’s hands after this comprehensive victory over Annadale at Lough Moss last Wednesday evening.

Cookstown simply blitzed Annadale for the first half as they put in a performance that no team in Ireland could have contended with. All our players were first to the ball, first to react when free awarded to us and the ball carrier had plenty of options as the ball pace and tempo were at a high level.

The game was only 6 minutes old when Cookstown struck. Paul Thompson intercepted a loose Annadale pass and made headway towards the circle, he passed to Greg Allen who came in along the bye-line before finding Ian Sloan to fire home.

Cookstown kept pressing and it wasn’t long before they increased their lead when Gareth Cuddy tapped in at the back post. At this stage Ian Hughes had not been troubled as Ewan Butler, David Best and Matthew Rollins snuffed out any Dale threats.

Stephen Sloan had an important job looking after Irish star Peter Caruth. Stephen really did well shadowing Caruth down the flank and not letting him cut inside where he can open a defence, he was also helped out by the forwards working back and at times doubling up on Caruth.

The Cookstown support were in dreamland when Ian Sloan picked up a pass from Andy Barbour and entered the circle before unleashing a vicious low reverse strike to put the Reds three up. A superb passing move involving Allen, Cuddy and Sloan left Timmy Smyth in front of goal and he made no mistake as he rounded the keeper to net. Twenty minutes gone and the Reds were four goals to the good.

Things just got better for Cookstown when Sloan completed his hat-trick when he deflected home a Thompson cross. Fresh off the back of the Ireland Olympic quest Ian is looking really sharp and in this form is a major weapon in Cookstown’s armoury. Half time and 5 -0 to Cookstown.

Into the second half and Cookstown wanted to keep the same intensity going as coaches from Banbridge and Lisnagarvey looked on, seeing their own league hopes evaporate. The only blight on Cookstown’s copybook was an Annadale goal early in the second half. Caruth for once broke free from Sloan’s shackles and fired over a reverse cross which beat Hughes for Allister to get a final touch.

Undeterred, the Reds, driven on by encouragement from the coaches, stuck to their game plan of playing at a high tempo and making the ball do the work. No one was caught carrying the ball as their passing game brought rich dividends. Mark Crooks and Raymond Miller both had shots saved before Johnny Ames netted during a melee in the circle. Towards the end of the game Annadale won a cheap penalty corner but Ian Hughes saved nonchalently from a Hamilton drag, Hughsie pushing the ball over the bar and out of the ground. Just before the final whistle the icing was put on the cake when Ian Sloan combined with Crooks at a penalty corner to leave the final score 1-7.

The Reds now host already relegated North Down on Saturday at 2.30 pm knowing that a draw or win will see the Keightley Cup back in residence in the clubhouse for the 4th time in the last 5 years.

Millar, Shearer & Black Man of the Match - The entire squad plus all coaching staff.