Cookstown crushed in hockey final
Pembroke W 6 Cookstown 0
Cookstown's bid to collect the Irish Senior Cup for only the second time in their history spectacularly floundered yesterday at the national stadium in Dublin, where they were torn asunder by rampant Pembroke Wanderers in one of the most one-sided finals the world's oldest competition has ever known.
Perhaps they didn't quite deserve to lose 6-0, but nonetheless the Tyrone men were blown away in a torrent of attacking hockey by arguably the most accomplished hockey team in generations.
Even Lisnagarvey in their pomp couldn't have lived with this Pembroke side, who from the moment they claimed an admittedly fortuitous lead on 17 minutes, simply never looked like surrendering their grip on a trophy they've now claimed four times in the last 15 years.
"They gave us a lesson," admitted a dejected Cookstown coach Geoff Hamilton, who revealed that he would now take time out to "consider his future" at a club he's served man and boy in various capacities.
"We've no excuses. We were well prepared and begun the game decently enough I thought.
"But after they scored we just couldn't get to grips with their pace and passing."
Pembroke's experience of playing — and winning — at European level already this season served them in tremendous stead, and in every position they had Cookstown's measure.
Perhaps it could be argued that the Ulster champions persevered too long with Ivan Steen and Keith Black, both of whom were recovering from injury, and by the time they were permanently replaced, the final was out of their reach.
Alan Sothern had already fired an early shot across Cookstown's bows before Pembroke were gifted a 17th minute opener. Cookstown stupidly conceded possession just outside the 25 and the ball was threaded through to man-of-the-match Gordon Elliott, who scuffed his shot and the ball bobbled over Ian Hughes into the net.
If that was fortunate, their second on 25 minutes was pure quality as a quickly taken free was cleverly deflected by Craig Fulton into the path of Maurice Elliott, whose shot gave Hughes no chance.
With Steen and Black replaced, Cookstown needed a bright start in the second half, but Pembroke effectively put the tie out of reach three minutes in when Alan Giles got to the byeline and swept across the face of goal for Gordon Elliott to make it 3-0.
Cookstown's only chance from open play came within 60 seconds when Colin Donaldson lobbed the keeper but the ball landed on the roof of the net.
Pembroke simply passed their opponents to death, and every time they broke they seemed to have one or two men over as attack-committed Cookstown couldn't get back to cover.
Paddy Conlon made it 4-0 on 42 minutes and Cookstown were cut open again on the hour by Justin Sherriff slammed in number five. Ian Hughes saved the Tyrone side from a far worse fate with two saves from Conor Harte, but he could do nothing to stop Sothern hitting his 56th goal of the season five minutes from time.
The clock couldn't count down quick enough for a demoralised Cookstown at the end, and on this form Pembroke will be untouchable next weekend in the Irish Hockey League play-offs, where Banbridge will be flying the flag for Ulster.