Cookstown – men’s EY Hockey League preview

Last season: Ulster Premier League champions; Anderson Cup winners; Ulster Indoor winners; Irish Senior Cup quarter-final; promoted via playoff win over UCD

Coaches: Michael Haycock and Stephen Cuddy; GK Coach: Gareth Cuddy; Analyst: Stephen McCartney

Players in: none
Players out: Troy Chambers, Cole Chambers (both Annadale)

Overview: Cookstown move back up to the top table, swapping places with UCD in the EY Hockey League for the second successive season via the playoffs system. They eventually got over in dramatic fashion, coming from 2-0 down to win 4-3.

Cookstown’s Mark Crooks in the EYHL playoffs last season. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Since then, there has not been a massive amount of change over the summer months through Josh McCabe (Irish U-18s), Scott McCabe, Danny Kerr and Callum Scott have been added to the panel. Keith Black came back from a shoulder injury in the Nigel Cheevers Memorial Tournament to score in a preseason 2-1 friendly win over Banbridge while Godfrey Irwin is on the comeback trail from a fractured thumb.

Stuart Smyth, Greg Allen and Jon Ames were their go-to men last season for inspiration with Mark Crooks a key leader.

Crooks, speaking in the wake of the Bann friendly win, said it was a decent way to enter the season and an openig date with Pembroke: “Though it is a good result, I doubt that game will have any bearing on the Pembroke match,” Crooks said. “We played pretty well, but, if I’m honest, I think Bann will be very disappointed in their performance. There is no doubt that we will have to up our efforts when the season really kicks off on Saturday.”

“We are a very different team now than we were back then [when they met two years]; a bit tougher, a bit smarter, and hopefully a bit more ruthless. Hopefully, we can go out and prove that.”

The club also has one of the most proactive PR sides in the country, providing excellent video, audio and written content for journalists, something that every club should try and aspire to!

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