Sports

Christmas Crackers For Coagh And Cookstown

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

COAGH United Football Club and Cookstown Hockey Club are hoping to enjoy a very merry Christmas this year as they get ready for cup finals on Boxing Day.

The men from Hagan Park take on Dollingstown at Loughgall's Lakeview Park at 11am in the Bob Radcliffe Cup, while Cookstown travel to Stormont to face off with Annadale in the showpiece of the Kirk Cup.

Cookstown sealed their spot a few weeks ago, while Coagh just sealed their cup final spot following a dramatic penalty shootout victory in the semi final against Newry City last Tuesday.

 

Cookstown HC

The Steelweld Park men will be going all out to bring the Kirk Cup back to County Tyrone for the fifth time in 10 years when they take on Annadal.

"The Kirk Cup final is a great experience for our players," said Cookstown coach Stephen Cuddy.

"For some it will be their 10th final while for others it will be their first. It is such a special competition and Cookstown making the final keeps a good buzz around training in the build-up.

"Annadale are a very good side and have a real good mixture of youth and experience. We are preparing for hotly contested and close encounter.

"Our own form has been pretty good this year. There was a real sense of disappointment after our relegation from the EY Hockey League but our boys have used this as motivation to get better. I actually think we are a better team than we were last year.

"The regular hockey has allowed us to develop while giving some of our schoolboys some quality pitch time.

"But if we are lucky enough to get back to the top table of Irish Hockey for next season I know that this experience in the Kirk Cup final will help us. There being so few games in the EYHL, every one becomes like a final and it is all about creating an atmosphere where our boys react positively to that pressure."

Cookstown Captain Greg Allen has been in sparkling form for Cookstown throughout the first half of the season, scoring 23 competitive goals to lead his club's hot shot charts.

"It is fantastic to be back in the Kirk Cup final," says Greg. "Our boys are really looking forward to the game but realise that it is going to be tough to get the win over Annadale.

"We played each other at the start of the year and it was a properly tough run out in challenging conditions. We were 3-2 up only to concede in the dying seconds so we were pretty disappointed with that.

"I expect that they will have improved greatly since that game but I think we have too. We've been really good at crafting goals in the last few games.

“A winning medal from the Kirk Cup would be a great reward for a lot of hard work throughout the first half of the season.

“It would serve as a real encouragement to kick on and see if we can raise our game even further in 2017."

 

Coagh United

After a difficult few years which culminated in relegation from the Championship at the end of last season, Coagh United are back on the rise.

They are going well on their return to the Ballymena Provincial League and have made it to the final of the Bob Radcliffe Cup, and are hoping to win the trophy for the first time in 10 seasons.

Graeme McKenzie took over the reins at the start of the season and he says reaching a cup final has created some excitement at Hagan Park.

“The lads are absolutely buzzing for it," Graeme told the Courier.

“The odds were stacked against us after last season but we've rolled our sleeves up and we'll go on Boxing Day and give it our all."

Adding to the intrigue surrounding the fixture is the fact that Dollingstown's recently appointed manager is Stephen Uprichard, who shared the hot seat with Noel Mitchell for a decade at Coagh.

“I played under Stephen when he was at Coagh and I spoke to him last week and we are both looking forward to it," says Graeme.

“It'll be a physical battle and whoever works the hardest on the day will win it. Roll on Boxing Day."

Buses will leave Hagan Park on Boxing Day morning at 9.30am.

If you wish to go on the bus, contact Carla Dallas on 07595 495081.

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