Superb Fours victory in Donegal

JL1 Cookstown II 2 Kilkeel II 3

Cookstown had a disappointing day on Saturday, showing some fantastic play before succumbing to three breakout goals to lose out on any points.

Omagh man Andy Smyth opened the scoring with a superb goal, picking up a long Atkinson pass on the byline and skipping past two tackles before reversing into the net.

Kilkeel then went 2-1 up when, once again, they broke out of their area when under pressure, broke a weak tackle and squared into an open net.

Cookstown went into the half time break on equal footing however, when Atkinson scored from the penalty corner set piece. However, the tie was turned on its head early in the second period when shoddy marking allowed Kilkeel to stroll in and beat Henry in goals with surprising ease. Cookstown huffed and puffed despite the welcome return of Thomas Hutchinson to the pitch and could not find a way through a Kilkeel side well worth their win.

Cookstown II: Adam Henry, David Atkinson, Daniel Crooks, Gavin Butler, Andrew Ferguson, Richard Nelson, Philip Morton, Tony Johnston, Steven Allen, Andrew Smyth, Ian Johnston, Andrew Mcwhirter, Thomas Hutchinson

Man of the Match: Tony Johnston

Many thanks to Stevie Hamilton and Ken Crooks for umpiring

JL2 Cookstown III 5 South Antrim II 1

This was Cookstown’s second game of the New Year with the lads getting beaten last week on the road to Harlequins. This week was the turn for South Antrim to make the journey to Cookstown after a heated encounter at the start of the season. The Red Socks came out of the blocks with all guns blazing and found themselves a goal up after 10 minutes when a move started with Acheson and Hutchinson in the midfield that eventually saw a number of passes complete and Morrow passing into an empty net. Soon afterwards Cookstown found themselves 2-0 up after a great bit of defending by Stewart and Millar set McAllan on his hay up the left McAllan entered the dee and hammered home a slap shot from the edge of the area.

At half time Cookstown agreed it was vital to stretch play and use the pace of wingers in the second half. After 20 minutes in the half McGaw had fired home his hatrick two from open play and a Corner. Cookstown pressed on for more but the South Antrim defence held fast. A great three points for the Reds

Man of the Match: Henry Stewart

Cookstown III: Henry, Thom, Millar, Stewart, McAllan, Hutchinson, Acheson, Morrow, Nelson, Greer, Anderson, Sloan, McGaw, Atkinson

Many thanks to Brian Thom for umpiring

JL4 Raphoe III 3 Cookstown IV 4

The Fours travelled to Raphoe for what is always a hard fought fixture hoping that the return of captain Marc Slim Crooks would inspire them to victory.

Cookstown started brightly having all the possession with Paul Watt and Andy Smyth dominating the midfield. Cookstown squandered three or four chance before Steven Stewart broke the deadlock with drag flick that’s pace and direction deceived the goalkeeper so much that he let it trickle straight down the middle of the goal and through his legs. It wasn’t long until the Donegal men scored, firstly from a short corner and then from a well worked passing goal when Cookstown were caught napping leaving the score 2-1 at the half.

Raphoe started the second half the brighter heaping pressure onto the Cookstown defence but the Reds held strong with débutante David Henry being particularly sharp in cutting out the threat. Cookstown still remained a threat with Matthew Smyth causing panic in the Raphoe ranks when he was on the ball however it was baby brother Andy Smyth who had the Midas touch scoring with a reverse shot drawing the game level at 2-2. Raphoe’s flare players began to shine and were now causing real problems for the Reds and were dominating the play and eventually scoring to go into the lead with five minutes to go. On occasions this season that would have been the end of the Fours but not on Saturday; Andy Smyth took the push back and in a matter of seconds he had worked his way into the opposition circle and scored to tie the match. With a minute remaining Captain Crooks played an inch perfect ball into the Raphoe circle and Smyth was there again with a ‘goal-den’ touch to deflect the ball past the Raphoe keeper and secure all three points.

Thanks to Stevie Smyth for umpiring duties.

Man of the Match: David Henry; a superb début for the club.

Cookstown IV: A. Gillis, N. Ruddock, B. Simpson, G. Major, D. Henry, S. Stewart, A. Smyth, P. Watt, M. Smyth, M. Crooks, M. Carson.