Topsy-turvy game for Cookstown but Reds come out on top

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In hockey, it was a topsy-turvy game at the Royal and Prior School in County Donegal on Saturday

Unbeaten Cookstown took on bottom of the league Raphoe.

A depleted looking squad made the trip across the border with Ewan Butler, Stuart Smyth and Johnny Ames missing from the line-up.

That was no excuse for a slow Cookstown start which saw the home side take the lead.

Nevertheless, the Reds reacted to this set-back in a positive manner, increasing the speed of their play and working the ball into dangerous areas.

This pressure soon told and Cookstown won a short corner which was slammed home by Paul Thompson.

It was 2-1 soon afterwards when Ryan Millar slotted home from the short corner set piece with a powerful drag flick.

Millar was having a barn-storming afternoon and alongside Thompson was the source of much of Cookstown's good play in the first half.

He soon became provider, punching through the Raphoe defensive lines to set up Greg Allen to score.

It wasn't long before Millar got his second of the match. Cookstown again caused Raphoe all sorts of problems in the wide areas before winning a short corner. Millar thumped the ball into the goals to make it 4-1.

Just before the break, Keith Black strode forwards to knock home a superb counterattack and make it 5-1 at half time.

Cookstown were very much on top and not only on the scoreboard, but their performance in the second period was extremely disappointing. Rather than continue with the flowing, passing game which had given them so many goals they seemed determined to try and beat Raphoe with individual runs.

It did not work out. The physical Donegal men easily dealt with the one-up tackles to time-after-time turn the tables on the Reds and go on the offensive.

Cookstown did, however, make sure of the points when Allen slammed home from a short corner. It continued his fine form of scoring in every match that he has played this season.

Raphoe had the final say in the game when they finished a nice move with a deft deflection to make it 6-2.

The Reds remain second in the table with a game in hand (and the same goal difference) as leaders Annadale. Kilkeel stay third despite having no game while Belfast Harlequins and Newry are up to fourth and fifth.

Cookstown: Tobi Deppermann, Cole Chambers, Godfrey Irwin, Dan Crooks, Greg Allen (c), Andrew McWhirter, Keith Black, Mark Rooney, Mark Crooks, Matty Rollins, Paul Thompson, Ryan Millar, Timmy Sloan

Solo Fuels Man of the Match: Paul Thompson.

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