Belfast Telegraph

Sloan shoots down Bann

McCullogh Cup final

By Graham Hamilton

Banbridge Academy 2 Cookstown High 4: It’s only a matter of time until Ian Sloan comes into Irish international coach Paul Revington’s radar.

On Sunday he was one of the stars as Cookstown booked their place in the Kirk Cup final, and yesterday he was a hat-trick hero and man of the match as the town’s High School won the McCullough Cup in its 50th anniversary year with a 4-2 success.

Wearing the captain’s armband, Ian carved out the opening to give his team an early lead against favourites Banbridge Academy, set up the second for Matthew Montgomery, scored a remarkable individual goal at the start of the second half, and then capped an outstanding performance by completing his hat-trick with an unstoppable penalty corner conversion.

The Academy, who had a clean sweep of Ulster trophies last season, fell at the first hurdle this time despite a gutsy display. The truth was that they just didn’t have the answer to young Sloan.

Ian’s parents — Martin and Adele, who were both international stars in their day — were there to see their son mastermind what is the school’s 11th success in the competition, with his mother doubly pleased as she happens to be the school’s principal.

Ian’s first yesterday came after just three minutes and althoughBann were level through Philip Doyle’ penalty corner conversion, Cookstown restored their lead five minutes from the interval when Sloan was the provider for Michael Montgomery to sweep home clinically at the far post.

The second half had started just 25 seconds when Sloan put the Tyrone school 3-1 ahead, and what an effort it was.

He won possession just inside Bann’s half and surged forward through the defence before unleashing a shot on the reverse stick which Bann keeper Andrew Mooney couldn’t keep out despite a brave effort.

The Academy refused to lie down, though, and Owen Magee pulled one back when he too scored on the reverse with a stinging shot after 41 minutes.

But Cookstown were becoming more dangerous on the break and after goalkeeper Mooney pulled off two excellent saves to deny Sloan at penalty corners, the Cookstown star finally completed his treble with another set-piece.

It was a big disappointment for

Banbridge who went in as favourites with half a dozen of their players already featuring in the town’s senior team.

But on this occasion it was Sloan and Matthew Rollins who ruled the roost in a splendid Cookstown team performance.

“That was very satisfying,” Sloan admitted afterwards. “I really wanted to win this match and am delighted we did, and that I played my part.”

The bad news for the other Ulster schools is that Ian will still be available next season!

Ulster Hockey Union president Jennifer Patterson was joined by Sam McCullough, who provided the cup in memory of his son John, to hand over the trophy and the man of the match award to Cookstown captain Sloan.

BANBRIDGE ACADEMY: A Mooney, R Smyrl, M Duggan, P Doyle, N Kelly, C Kelly, M Bell, P Brown, H McShane, O Magee, J Moffatt. Subs: M Anderson, M Knox, C Dillon-Burns, H De Courcy-Wheeler, J McKee

COOKSTOWN HIGH: J Kirkpatrick, D Atkinson, P Morrow, D Crooks, I Sloan, M Montgomery, A McWhirter, T Johnston, R Millar, M Rollins, M Johnston. Subs: A Gillis, P Watt, I Johnston, R Donaldson, A Ferguson

Umpires: C Beattie, N McBride

Belfast Telegraph

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