Agony and ecstasy for Caruth as Dale land Kirk Cup in style
Annadale 8-1 Cookstown
It was by far the most satisfying display yet for Annadale's Peter Caruth in his fledgling career as a player/coach - until 10 seconds from the end of yesterday's Kirk Cup final against Cookstown at Stormont.
The Irish international striker, just over three months into his new role, masterminded a memorable and totally unexpected 8-1 success over their Tyrone rivals and he bagged himself a hat-trick into the bargain.
But there was a downside, and it could be a particularly bad one - he injured his ankle in completing his hat-trick with the last hit of the game.
The injury was on the ankle which previously kept him out of action for 18 months - and the last thing he needs is another long-term stay on the sidelines, and so it's fingers crossed that X-rays will bring good rather than bad news.
"There's an anchor in my ankle from that last injury, and I felt a pop," said Caruth as he lay on the ground long after the final hooter had sounded.
"It's all about whether it was the anchor snapping or the bone. We'll have to wait and see.
"But apart from the injury, the day couldn't have gone better. It was great to see our young team blossom in this way - they listened, they learned and then they did what was asked of them. We came out of the blocks fast and those early goals settled us."
Yes, four goals up after 26 minutes is something no one had predicted, and then three goals in the last three minutes as Cookstown pushed forward in search of some consolation strikes gave the scoreline a lop-sided look and certainly didn't do the Red Army justice.
Ben Wallace opened the Dale's account with a well worked penalty corner and Craig Getty's direct shot from a narrow angle caught out keeper Josh Anderson, who was deputising for the absent Tobias Depperman.
Caruth got his first following a great run from Peter Bland and Chris Heath swept in the fourth following good work by Callum Robson along the byline.
Caruth converted a penalty stroke early in the second half when Matthew Crookshanks was upended but Cookstown just couldn't break down the Annadale defence, with Greg Allen denied three times by in-form keeper Jonny Moore.
Allen finally got on the scoresheet, to maintain his record of having scored in every game he has played this season, but then came that incredible finish with Bland, Fergus Gibson and finally Caruth with his hat-trick from swift counter-attacks against a badly exposed Cookstown defence.
ANNADALE: Jonny Moore, Ben Wallace, David Morris, Connor Roberts, David Robb, Fergus Gibson, Matthew Crookshanks, Callum Robson, Peter Caruth, James Cox, Christ Heath: Subs: Andrew McKibben, Peter Bland, Adam McAllister, Ollie Brown, Craig Getty, Tom Robson, Matt McRoberts
COOKSTOWN: Josh Anderson, Matthew Rollins, Godfrey Irwin, Paul Thompson, Mark Crooks, Andy McWhirter, Greg Allen, Stuart Smyth, Keith Black, Dan Crooks, Timmy Sloan. Subs: Ryan Millar, Ewan Butler, Scott McCabe, Cole Chambers, Michael Kerrm Jack Haycock, Josh McCabe
Umpires: Russell Donaldson, Ian Strange