Men’s EY Provincial Playoff Final
Annadale 3 (F Gibson, C Getty, O Brown) Cookstown 1 (R Millar)
A Peter Caruth-inspired Annadale will return to the men’s EY Hockey League for the 2017/18 as they swept to a 3-1 win over Cookstown in the EY Provincial Playoffs final at Grange Road.
The Olympian – and player-coach – was at the heart of the Carryduff side’s impressive win over their Ulster rivals who had edged them out of top spot in their regional league in the regular season.
Dale had swept through Saturday’s semi-finals with a 5-0 win over Bandon while Cookstown had a much tougher date against Corinthian, eventually prevailing 1-0 thanks to a Mark Crooks goal.
In the final, the opening phases were end-to-end with chances a plenty. Dale keeper Johnny Moore was required to keep out two big early chances for Cookstown while his counterpart Tobi Depperman did well to palm away Caruth’s looping deflection.
Three Annadale corners also went unconverted before they eventually took the lead in the 31st minute. Caruth was at the heart of it, getting to the baseline where he flicked into the faceguard of Depperman.
His save bounced up and with another poke of a stick, fell to Fergus Gibson who volleyed in from close range for 1-0.
Three minutes later, Craig Getty made it 2-0 as Calum Robson played a clever diagonal pass out to Caruth on the right wing and he arrowed a cross into the centre which Getty met perfectly.
Cookstown got back into the tie early in the second half when Ryan Millar was let through one-on-one with Moore. He smartly dummied the goalkeeper before finishing calmly from the right of the circle with a push.
But the game was won once and for all in the 48th minute when Oli Brown was picked out at the back post to turn in a thunderous crash ball from Peter Bland from left to right.
From there, Greg Allen clipped a corner shot wide in the moments after the goal but, after that, they struggled to create any chances of note as Annadale were content to sit deep and defend in numbers, holding out for the victory.
They go automatically up, replacing Instonians in the EY Hockey League, while Cookstown must travel to Dublin again next Sunday to face UCD in a repeat of last year’s promotion-relegation battle.
EY Provincial Playoffs, semi-finals: Cookstown 1 (M Crooks) Corinthian 0; Annadale 5 (C Getty, M Crookshanks, A McAllister, P Caruth, B Wallace)
Final: Annadale 3 (F Gibson, C Getty, O Brown) Cookstown 1 (R Millar)