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Irish Senior Cup: Hutchinson on hand to spark revival

It was just short of two years ago that Thomas Hutchinson was on the sidelines watching his beloved Cookstown crash to an embarrassing 6-0 defeat in the Irish Senior Cup final.

The midfielder was chomping at the bit wanting to get on the pitch to help, but there wasn't much chance of that — he was on crutches recovering from major surgery having had just about everything possible rebuilt around his knee.

Few thought he would ever play again, such was the extent of the injury, but he proved them wrong and proudly pulled on the Cookstown red shirt this time last year, barely 10 months after the operation. Thomas hasn't given up on his dream of playing in an Irish Senior Cup final. And it's no surprise that Cookstown have now knocked out Leinster champions Pembroke (2-0) and Munster kingpins Cork C of I (4-3) in successive rounds of this year's competition, with Thomas playing a key role.

At one stage it looked like the Tyrone men's 265-mile trip to Cork on Saturday was going to end in defeat when they found themselves two goals behind.

But a Greg Allen double and the opener from Andy Barbour put them right back in contention going into the final minutes.With Irish internationals John Jermyn (2) and David Hobbs having scored for Cork, it looked like the game was heading for the golden goal, until with barely a minute left Cookstown won a penalty corner.

Up stepped Hutchinson and the possibility of keeping his cup final dream alive briefly flashed into his mind.

But without further ado his dragflick beat goalkeeper Billy Lynch easily to set up a home quarter-final tie against Fingal.

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That means Ulster now have six of the eight semi-final slots, raising hopes that the trophy will come back north of the border for the first time since 2005.

Meanwhile, Lisnagarvey and Banbridge opened a gap at the top of the O'NE 1918 Ulster Premier League after comfortable wins on Saturday.

Timmy Cockram's hat-trick in a 6-0 home win over Instonians sent him to the top of the goalscoring charts and kept his team top of the table, a point ahead of Banbridge for whom Dane Ward struck twice in a 3-0 win at Bangor.

Annadale's revival continued with a 3-1 home win over Mossley while Kilkeel's 2-1 success over Civil Service leaves the Stormont side still in the relegation zone with Bangor and North Down.

Meanwhile Ulster are guaranteed a place in the Irish Hockey Trophy final after yesterday's draw paired South Antrim and Belfast Harlequins who came through Saturday's quarter-finals against Antrim and Portadown respectively.

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