Cookstown hammer Service to get back in hunt for honours

The premiership title race is far from over, after Cookstown hauled themselves back into title contention, defeating Civil Service 5-1.

And according to Cookstown’s co-coach, Mike Haycock, the Reds are in the mix for the number one spot.

“We are still in it,” he said, after watching his side produce a below par performance against Service.

“It is still mathematically possible that we could still do it. It’s getting very close at the top and it only takes one team to slip up.

“It we hadn’t lost last month in a very close game against Garvey, we would be right in the thick of it. It’s still tight and we can still take points off each other.

“We were a bit lacklustre against Service but before the Christmas break we had been very sharp. But credit to Service, they defended well and made the pitch very small and we didn’t go wide enough and found it hard to create chances.

“It’s a nice one to get this one out of the way after Christmas and take the three points.”

Keith Black opened Cookstown’s account in the ninth minute when he roofed the ball with a ferociously struck shot and minutes later, Stephen Cuddy doubled the Reds lead.

But Cookstown were struggling to break down a very determined Service defence and they were in no mood for a repeat of the last meeting, when the scoreline hit double figures.

Eight minutes before the interval, Stephen Sloan, who was returning from injury, picked up a rebound off the post and he made no mistake from close in.

After a tentative start to the second half, Greg Allen notched up his 18th goal of the season, only to see Service race to the far end, for David Bradley to score.

But the Reds four-goal cushion was restored, when Ewan Butler found Raymond Millar free in the Service circle and he crashed the ball home to make it 5-1 to the visitors.

After the game, Service skipper Ryan Cowden was not too despondent about the result.

He said: “I asked the boys for a better improvement and work-rate than our last meeting and I felt that they did that.

“It was a tough game against a very good Cookstown side but I think we made them work hard for their goals.

“There is still a fair bit of hockey to be played, so we are not giving up on staying in the premiership. We have a massive game against Raphoe next Saturday and if we win that one, we could move off the foot of the table.”