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Ulster's young hockey guns will aim to Cook up a storm

By Graham Hamilton

Seven of Cookstown High's all-conquering school team have been named in the Ulster under-18 training squad for the UK Youth Games next month at the University of South West England.

Coach Paul Cooke won't have four of his Irish Under 18 internationals available, as they are away with Banbridge Academy on a school tour, but still has a strong panel of 22 players who are expected to feature well against their English, Scottish and Welsh counterparts.

Cookstown High, of course, had a great season, winning a handful of trophies, and contribute the bulk of the players including current U18 internationals Alistair Thom, Stephen Sloan, Stuart Smyth and Mark Crooks.

“This will be a major challenge for us as England, Scotland and Wales are bringing strong squads as they begin their preparation for the 2009 European Championships in Vienna," said coach Cooke, who also looks after Instonians in the Ulster Premier League and the Irish under-15’s.

"But we will go determined to deliver a strong performance. We will be training throughout August before reducing our training squad to 16 players.”

The Games objectives are to select athletes in preparation for the 2012 Olympics and is an important platform for Ulster players aiming for the highest level.

Ulster U18s: Jonathan Ames (Cookstown High), Richard Arneill (Wallace High), David Atkinson (Cookstown High), Daniel Buser (Wallace High), Colin Cleland (Friends), Mark Crooks (Cookstown High), William Edgar (Ballynahinch High), John Edgar (Ballynahinch High), William Hayhurst (RBAI), Stephen Hunter (Wallace High), Ciaran Kelly (Banbridge Academy), Niall Kelly (Banbridge Academy), Peter MacDonnell (Wallace High), Patrick Martin (Sullivan Upper), Ward Phillips (Friends), Peter Purcell (Sullivan Upper), Gareth Sanders (Sullivan Upper), Stephen Sloan (Cookstown High), Ian Sloan (Cookstown High), Stuart Smyth (Cookstown High), Alistair Thom (Cookstown High), Thomas Welshman (RBAI). Coach Paul Cooke: manager: Scott McNeill.

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