Barbour puts sizzle into Cookstown for cup glory
Cookstown, and its famous Red Army of fans, are on the march. Geoff Hamilton's lads, inspired by Irish international Andy Barbour, won the Kirk Cup for just the third time in the competition's 110-year history when they beat Lisnagarvey 2-1 at Banbridge's Havelock Park yesterday afternoon.
And Hamilton promises that this is just the beginning of a long-awaited run of success for the Co Tyrone club.
"Trophies don't find their way to Cookstown too often, but now there is the belief in the camp, as well as a great blend of youth and experience, and it augurs well for our future," he said following the trophy presentation by Ulster Branch president Michael Jackson.
Hamilton was in no doubt that the trophy was coming to Cookstown this year.
"I told you we would win it," he said afterwards, recalling our conversation immediately after their semi-final success over Annadale when they came from behind to beat Annadale on penalty strokes.
"Yes, Andy Barbour was our man of the match again. But there were other many contenders from our team too.
"But what pleases me most of all is that we had the upper hand in both halves, and deserved our win."
Hamilton was clearly referring to the solid performances from his defence in particular.
Goalkeeper Ian Hughes pulled off four vital saves during the course of the game, and defenders Ian Huchinson, Ewan Butler and Godfrey Irwin gave the Garvey attack precious little to work with.
It was Andy Barbour who broke the deadlock as early as the eighth minute when he pounced on a loose ball after the Garvey defence got themselves in a tangle.
He kept his head as goalkeeper David Williamson came out and although forced wide he still slotted the ball home.
Cookstown had the edge for the remainder of the half but lived dangerously when Brian Waring fired wide and Mark Raphael had a shot saved well by Hughes.
Garvey though went in level at the interval, with the 34th minute equaliser coming from Raphael and helped on into the net by a Cookstown stick.
Keith Black and Andy Barbour both came close early in the second half before substitute Stephen Cuddy grabbed the winner in the 48th minute, firing home after good work by Barbour and Colin Donaldson out on the right.
Garvey finished strongly and Hughes saved from Raphael, Chris Gregg and their man of the match Mark Daniel but there was just no way through.
Now Hamilton's objective is to add consistency to Cookstown's game, particularly in the league.
But with Barbour due to go on international duty soon, it leaves a gap not so easily filled in the New Year.
LISNAGARVEY: D Williamson, B Waring, I Davidson, E Lutton, J Bloomfield, M Daniel, J Bell, S Arbuthnot, M Raphael, C Gregg, C Black.
Subs: J Gray, K Lunn, B Toland, S Ballentine, N Brazil.
COOKSTOWN: I Hughes, I Hutchinson, T Hutchinson, E Butler, G Irwin, P Barbour, C Donaldson, T Smyth, I Steen, A Barbour, K Black.
Subs: S Cuddy, J Costelloe, A Mullan, D Best, D Ames.
Umpires: C Hutchinson, W McCully.