Comfortable win in the end for Cookstown

Cookstown Captain, Greg Allen, with the Kirk Cup
Cookstown Captain, Greg Allen, with the Kirk Cup

COOKSTOWN swept to an unexpectedly comfortable win over holders Lisnagarvey in a disappointing Kirk Cup final at Havelock Park yesterday.

Watched by a smaller crowd than is usual for the biggest date on the domestic hockey calendar the game failed to match it’s billing - but the Tyrone side won’t be too concerned about that.

The horrendous weather didn’t help as many spectators opted to stay at home nor the fact the game was moved to Banbridge after an appeal by Cookstown to have the venue switched from ‘Garvey’s home ground.

But it is doubtful whether the venue had anything to do with the outcome as ‘Garvey, like many hockey followers, simply didn’t turn up on the day.

Cookstown were so dominant throughout most of the 70 minutes that they restricted Lisnagarvey to just two shots on target, one of which provided their consolation goal.

But by the time Timmy Cockram’s shot entered the with four minutes left the game was over as a contest as Cookstown were by far the better team on the day.

Their movement and passing was superior to the Hillsborough side’s as ‘Garvey failed to stamp any semblance of authority on the game from start to finish.

Cookstown put down an early marker almost straight from the push back as a terrific run by John Ames had ‘Garvey goalkeeper John Tormey racing off his line to avert the danger.

Four minutes later Cookstown, who started the game at a lightning pace, earned themselves the first penalty corner of the match but it came to nothing.

The opening goal of the game arrived in the 21st minute and it was the impressive Ames who set it up as his astute pass left Stuart Smyth with a relatively straightforward finish from five yards out.

Little had been seen of the Lisnagarvey attack but from one foray forward in the 25th minute, Andy Forrest passed to Peter MacDonnell but his reverse stick shot flew wide of the target.

‘Garvey fans would have been hoping for a much improved second half display and things looked brighter for them when their side forced their first set-piece within 60 seconds of the restart.

But Stevie Arbuthnot’s shot from Jonny Bell’s delivery was comfortably dealt with by Ian Hughes in the Cookstown goal.

Cookstown made it 2-0 in the 50th minute when Ames was again on hand to provide the assist this time for Gareth Cuddy who fired home.

With 11 minutes remaining and the ‘Garvey defence under pressure Cookstown were awarded a penalty stroke for an offence in the circle and Keith Black did a confident job from the spot.

Then Simon Todd set up Stephen Sloan whose shot went just wide and Smyth’s effort hit the side-netting as Cookstown continued to have the lion’s share of possession.

But it was ‘Garvey who at last gave their fans something to cheer about when Cockram slammed home his team’s second corner of the game in the 66th minute but it was too little, too late.

Cookstown: Ian Hughes; Godfrey Irwin, Ewan Butler, Simon Todd, Andrew Barbour, Stephen Sloan, David Best, John Ames, Greg Allen, Stuart Smyth, Keith Black; subs: Matthew Rollins, Ryan Millar, Gareth Cuddy, Paul Thompson, Andrew McWhirter, Mark Rooney, Michale Anderson.

Lisnagarvey: John Tormey; Brian Waring, Stevie Arbuthnot, Jonny Bell, Richard Arneill, Jonny Quigley, Peter MacDonnell, Daniel Buser, Stuart McNeice, Mark Raphael, Timmy Cockram; subs: Greg Thompson, Andy Forrest, Peter Bland, James Dowling, Phil Stirling.

Umpires: Les Allen and Colin Hutchinson.