Rainey HC and Cookstown HC were crowned champions at the 2017 Nigel Cheevers Memorial Tournament at Steelweld Park in Cookstown on Saturday.
In the Lowe Brother’s Butchers-sponsored Men’s tournament, Cookstown stormed to the title with big wins over Ulster Premier League contenders Portadown and Instonians.In their first match against Portadown, Cookstown won 6-1 with the goals coming from Stuart Smyth with four and Greg Allen with a brace.
Those two players got on the scoreboard again in the second game against Instonians. Allen bagged a hat trick while Smyth smashed home twice. The scoring in the 8-2 victory was finished off by Michael Kerr (2) and Scott McCabe.
“Although the results were one sided, playing back to back games gave us a great workout ahead of our first EY game, away to Cork C of I,” said Cookstown captain Jon Ames.
“We are working with a few guys missing; Keith Black through injury and Jack Haycock representing NI at the UK School Games; and we must now add Godfrey Irwin to that list as he broke his thumb during Saturday’s first game.
“It was clear on Saturday that both Greggy and Stuarty have their eye in early this year, having scored or assisted in the majority of goals. Danny Kerr looked very comfortable as well, playing way ahead of his years, and Josh McCabe in goal has quickly found his feet in senior hockey.
“Many thanks to everyone who came up to cheer us on and also to Instonians and Portadown for making this such a worthwhile tournament. We wish them every success this season in their campaigns. Lastly, thanks to sponsor Lowe Bros. for their kind support of this occasion.”
In the Turco Engineering and Tyre Safety Centre-sponsored Ladies’ competition, hosts Cookstown took on near neighbours Rainey and Armagh. The two Mid-Ulster teams crossed swords in the first game with neither side being able to break the deadlock and the game ending in a goalless draw.
Hannah Haycock went closest for Cookstown while Gemma Gregg had a shot cleared off the line for Rainey.
Brian Simpson’s Cookstown then drew first blood with a 1-0 win over Armagh, coached by fellow Red, Ian Hughes. The defences again proved to be on top with another low scoring affair.
Armagh played Rainey in the final match with the Magherafelt team needing a win to be in with a chance of winning the tournament. Both defences held sway in the first half. The deadlock was eventually broken by Rainey with an Emma Currie strike following a brilliant pass from Carolyn Burns.
Armagh hit back almost immediately with Erin Mackey finishing a nice passing move. With minutes remaining, Rainey hit Armagh with speedy counterattack to leave Currie one-on-one with the goalkeeper. Currie held her nerve, rounding the keeper to score and give Rainey a 2-1 victory and the win in the tournament on goals scored.
“I am so pleased for the Rainey team that won the Cheevers Tournament,” said Rainey coach Richard McGaw. “I know the team thoroughly enjoyed the games and thanks to everyone at Cookstown for making them so welcome.”