Reds lose out to clinical Garvey

IT was yet more Cup disappointment for Cookstown as they were defeated by 2-1 in the Kirk Cup final by Lisnagarvey.

The Reds had gone into the final following a mixed run of form. Cookstown had already been knocked out of the Irish Senior Cup and had already suffered a number of league defeats.

In front of a bumper four-figure crowd, Cookstown were going for their third win in four years and had a bit of a hoodoo over Garvey as they had beaten them in the last two Kirk Cup finals.

But this time round Garvey had other ideas.

However, already without their ace goal-scorer, Timmy Cockram - who is involved in Irish squad commitments, Garvey had some reshuffling to do after they lost the services of Peter MacDonnell, who took ill on Christmas Eve. Cookstown were without the services of talented teenager Ian Sloan, who was also being rested due to involvement in the Irish senior side.

After a tentative start from Cookstown, John Tormey the Garvey keeper had to be at his best to deny Gareth Cuddy from Cookstown’s first penalty corner in the fifth minute and two minutes later, play switched to the Cookstown circle, only this time Ian Hughes had to be sharp to deny Daniel Buser from close in.

It was fast and furious stuff, as in the ninth minute Cookstown captain Keith Black was needed to save on the line from Michael Harte.

Two minutes into the second half, Hughes had to be at his best to deny Andy Forrest as he cracked in a reverse stick shot just inside the circle.

At last the breakthrough came on 45 minutes, when Mark Raphael won Garvey’s first penalty corner of the game and up stepped Arbuthnot to send in an unstoppable shot, which cannoned off Hughes high into the net for the opening goal.

Having won no penalty corners in the first half, Garvey had won four in the opening 15 minutes and in the 50th minute Arbuthnot once again was on target, this time sending a booming shot beneath Hughes to double the lead.

The Reds were pushing forward in waves and with two minutes remaining, they put the game on a knife edge when Gareth Cuddy scored at the second attempt from their fourth penalty corner of the game.

But it was all too late for another Cookstown comeback and as the final whistle went, the cup was going to Garvey for the 31st time.

The Reds will now turn their attentions to improving their league form and continue their efforts in the Irish Hockey League, where a place in the EuroHockey League is up for grabs.