LISNAGARVEY 2 - COOKSTOWN 1
Lisnagarvey players celebrate their Kirk Cup final victory over Cookstown at Comber Road. US5211-516cd Picture: Cliff Donaldson
LISNAGARVEY, against the odds, lifted the Kirk Cup at Comber Road on Boxing Day. They defeated their last opponents Cookstown by two goals to one in a very well supported Christmas holiday showdown.
The back room staff and the playing squad at Garvey have had everything thrown at them over the past three months; an injury list which has seriously depleted the strength of the panel and particularly the loss of Timmy Cockram which gave coach Kyle Lunn some severe headaches, but his charges have shown great resilience and the spirit in the camp has taken them through all challenges so far.
When they lost the services of Peter MacDonnell right at the last minute, the influential player going down with a virus on Sunday, the odds again were stacked against the reorganised Garvey team but again they battled through their setbacks to take the trophy for the 31st time.
Ulster Hockey president Alan Morris presents Lisnagarvey captain Jonny Bell with the Kirk Cup, the oldest trophy in Irish hockey, following the Boxing Day final between Lisnagarvey and Cookstown at Comber Road. US5211-518cd
Daniel Buser, Lisnagarvey, on the ball.
With Graham Bittle playing at the back of the defence and Daniel
Buser drafted into the midfield, Garvey were under pressure in the
opening exchanges and conceded a penalty corner in only the 4th minute.
Gareth Cuddy's resulting drag flick was very well saved by Garvey's
keeper John Tormey
and Garvey quickly replied with a great run by Buser which Cookstown keeper Ian Hughes did well to block in the 6th minute. Stuart McNiece had a good run without a touch on his cross and in the 12th minute the ball was scrambled off the Cookstown goal line when Garvey had three chances to score.
Lisnagarvey goalkeeper John Tormey saves from Greg Allen of Cookstown.
A slack piece of defending by the Usually solid Garvey rearguard gave Cookstown their second penalty corner in the 15th minute. Again, John Tormey had to make two excellent saves to keep his goal intact while at the other end a minute later, Greg Thompson, James Dowling and Mark Raphael created a good chance for Garvey but in the end the attack was smothered.
At this point in the game, Garvey seemed to have more attacking ideas but most of the play was taking place in the crowded middle of the pitch and only half chances for Adam Falls and Mark Raphael were created before the half time interval with the game still scoreless.
Two minutes into the second half, Fallis showed his talent when he worked his way into a shooting position but Hughes was equal to his effort and the ball was quickly transferred to the Garvey circle where Tormey had to scramble a shot from Andy Barbour away under severe pressure but a 3rd Cookstown penalty corner resulted. This time a switch led to a half hit shot cleared by the cool Garvey defence and a minute later, the 44th, Garvey themselves forced their first set piece.
Andrew Barbour, Cookstown and Michael Harte, Lisnagarvey in action.
Having failed to score from their last 15 penalty corners, hopes were not high for success but Steven Arbuthnot found the net with a powerful drag flick which went in off keeper Hughes' pads.
Garvey had fully deserved their slender lead but it left Cookstown still with 25 minutes to restore the balance and Johnny Bell's men knew they had a lot more to do to take the spoils.
The pressure was maintained with a second Garvey penalty corner gained in the 52nd minute and this time the ball was switched to the right of the circle but in the end the chance was wasted but in the 55th minute the game took a large swift towards Garvey.
Their third penalty corner was saved by Hughes but in doing so he conceded another set piece and Steven Arbuthnot did even better with his second drag flick, beating the big keeper with a very fast low effort to give his team the vital two goal cushion.
The goal had been scored in the 55th minute and Garvey had Cookstown 'on the rack' but as they did against Banbridge the previous Saturday, they took retreated into their own half and Cookstown suddenly had a lot more possession and looked dangerously like equalising.
John Tormey made a very good reaction save in the 62nd minute but a minute later Gareth Cuddy had two chances to shoot at Cookstown's 4th penalty corner and his second strike beat Tormey for pace leaving Garvey facing a tense last six minutes.
Garvey skipper Johnny Bell scraped a shot off the goal line in the
69th minute and with relief the final whistle blew to give Garvey a very
satisfying win and their name on the Kirk Cup for the 31st time in the
club's history. This had been an excellent team performance with Bell,
and Steven Arbuthnot exceptional in defence while up front, even without Peter MacDonnell, Daniel Buser, Andy Forrest and Stuart McNiece gave the Cookstown defence no end of problems and in the end the most determined and creative side rightfully won the game. Ulster Hockey President Alan Moms presented the Kirk Cup to a delighted Johnny Bell in front of a very good holiday crowd after a typical hard fought Boxing Day final.