Cup side Cookstown will test Bann

For all the build-up and to find out what the Bann boss thinks of every member of his squad, get a copy of this week's Leader. Pic: Rowland White / PressEye
For all the build-up and to find out what the Bann boss thinks of every member of his squad, get a copy of this week's Leader. Pic: Rowland White / PressEye

Going into the semi-finals, the Ulster Hockey fraternity were licking their lips at the prospect of a big two Kirk Cup final, the first since 1989.

When Bann cruised through care of an 8-0 thrashing of Mossley and Lisnagarvey took a 2-1 second half lead against Cookstown, that looked to be that.

A couple of minutes on the clock in that second semi-final and Bann boss Mark Tumilty must have already been plotting his old side’s Boxing Day downfall.

However, up popped Raymond Miller to level the scores for Cookstown before Greg Allen converted an extra-time winner four minutes before the hooter to dump Garvey out of the competition.

A never say die attitude and fight aplenty then, this Cookstown side are not to be trifled with.

Bann already know that all too well, having trailed to the County Tyrone side at half-time in the league fixture at Havelock earlier this season.

As dangerous as they are in the league, the Cup really proves to be Cookstown’s forte. They have lifted the Kirk Cup no less than five times since 2002 and have lost another two finals in that time, one of those, of course, to Bann in the 2011 final.

As they showed in 2010 when Cookstown beat Banbridge to take the title, they’ll be no pushovers this time around.

“Cookstown are an excellent team and they’ll be very hard to beat on Boxing Day,” said Bann boss Mark Tumilty.

“They’ve picked up a few really good results this year. They drew with Garvey in the league and got a draw at Monkstown a few weeks ago.

“They have shown that they’re more than capable of picking up those sorts of results. They really impressed me in the league game against us, when they were 2-1 up at half-time as well.

“We’re going to have to work very hard on Boxing Day to get the right result. It will take a big performance but I think we’re starting to show that we can put those in when they are really required.

“We produced it against Garvey in the league and against Three Rock Rovers in the Irish Senior Cup.

“Stephen Cuddy (Cookstown Coach) always has his teams set up very well but we’ll be organised properly and will be well prepared for this game.”