Cookstown and Ards claim EYHL2 season’s medals
Cookstown and Ards completed their EYHL2 campaigns with the medals following their Sunday wins over Instonians and Monkstown, respectively, at Whitechurch Park.
With promotion to the top tier assured by virtue of Saturday’s semi-final success, the EY2 title was up for grabs with the men’s final first to hit the turf between Cookstown and Instonians.
It was a tight affair with Greg Allen putting Cookstown in front when he finished off after Paul Thompson laid the ball into his path. Tommy Orr equalised when Mikie Watt brought out his bag of tricks to spin between a couple of challenges and then lay the ball into his team mate’s path.
It remained at 1-1 through the third quarter before youngster Mark Cuddy won the contest in the closing quarter, scoring the deciding goal with nine minutes to go.
“Absolutely chuffed; the main priority was to get promoted so we are delighted with that and obviously, coming out for a final, we were here to win it,” captain Thompson said afterwards.
“[For the semi-final] We had seen Clontarf’s results and knew it would be a tough game and it was a slog. When it went to shoot-out, we have Josh McCabe – he’s brilliant and we practice them an awful lot!”
In the women’s final, Ards got off to a flyer with Malseed thumping in from the top of the circle twice within minutes of each other for a 2-0 lead.
Fellow Olympian Chloe Watkins cut the gap in half when she jinked one way and then back onto her open side with a quality shot but Ali Carson put Ards two clear at half-time, making it 3-1.
Monkstown were right back in the mix when a Watkins backhand shot was guided in at the right post by Sophie Moore, setting up a grandstand finish.
But the Ulster side held firm to take the gold medals and a breathless Malseed said it was a perfect end to a long season.
“It was a tough day, physically taking its toll as you can hear!” she said with a grin.
“Yesterday was the final we were building toward all season so anything after that was an enjoyable moment. We came out knowing this was going to be a great game, knowing they have performed consistently all season.
“We started off going two up and surprised ourselves a bit! From there, it was about trying to keep the foot on the pedal to the end.
“With last season a write-off, this seems like a long-time coming and we have been building toward this for a while. We’ll definitely celebrate tonight!”
EYHL Division Two finals
Men: Cookstown 2 (G Allen, M Cuddy) Instonians 1 (T Orr)
Women: Ards 3 (Z Malseed 2, A Carson) Monkstown 2 (C Watkins, S Moore)