Cookstown High School U13s secure back-to-back Bannister Bowl triumph for second consecutive year

Cookstown High School’s under 13 hockey team etched their names in history once more as they clinched the prestigious Bannister Bowl for the second consecutive year.
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The Bannister Bowl, the pinnacle of under 13 schoolboy hockey, witnessed a thrilling showdown between Cookstown High School and Friends School Lisburn, ending in a captivating 2-2 draw after full time. However, it was Cookstown’s prowess in the penalty runs that ultimately sealed their victory, ensuring their reign as champions.

The match began with Cookstown asserting their dominance in the early stages, exemplified by Noah Cuddy’s clinical finish from a penalty corner in the 6th minute, setting the tone for an intense battle. Despite Cookstown’s initial onslaught, Friends School Lisburn quickly found their footing, with Angus Barbour levelling the score in the 23rd minute, showcasing their resilience and determination.

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As the game progressed, both teams fought tooth and nail for supremacy, with Carter Lunn capitalising on a penalty corner opportunity in the 40th minute to give Friends School Lisburn a crucial advantage. However, Cookstown refused to relent, with Noah Cuddy once again proving his mettle by converting another penalty corner in the 47th minute, restoring parity and igniting hopes of a comeback.

Cookstown High School defeat Friends School 6-3 after Run Ins in the Bannister Bowl Final. Credit: Bob GivenCookstown High School defeat Friends School 6-3 after Run Ins in the Bannister Bowl Final. Credit: Bob Given
Cookstown High School defeat Friends School 6-3 after Run Ins in the Bannister Bowl Final. Credit: Bob Given

Throughout the encounter, Cookstown’s goalkeeper Marcus Gillis exhibited exceptional skill and composure between the posts, thwarting numerous attempts from Friends School Lisburn and keeping his team in contention with his outstanding saves.

Despite their best efforts, neither side could find a winner in regular time, leading to a tense penalty shootout to determine the ultimate victor. Cookstown held their nerve admirably, converting all their penalty runs flawlessly, while Friends School Lisburn managed only one successful attempt, courtesy of captain Carter Lunn. Once again, Marcus Gillis proved to be the hero for Cookstown, making crucial saves in the penalty runs to secure victory.

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The decisive moment arrived when TJ Kelly confidently converted Cookstown’s winning run-in, sparking scenes of jubilation among players and supporters alike. Cookstown HighSchool’s under 13 team celebrated in style, revelling in their achievement of retaining the Bannister Bowl for another year.

Cookstown High School defeat Friends School 6-3 after Run Ins in the Bannister Bowl Final. Credit: Bob GivenCookstown High School defeat Friends School 6-3 after Run Ins in the Bannister Bowl Final. Credit: Bob Given
Cookstown High School defeat Friends School 6-3 after Run Ins in the Bannister Bowl Final. Credit: Bob Given
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Cookstown: Archie Hall, Daniel Brownlee, Daniel Hood, Dylan Hughes, Harry Jordan, Henry Lee, Jake Simpson, Josh Ferguson (Vice Captain), Luke Johnston, Marcus Gillis (Vice Captain), Matthew Watters, Neil Rea, Noah Cuddy (Captain), Ryan Cahoon, Stanley Jackson, TJ Kelly, Will Redford. Coaches: Cat Hall, Michael Haycock, Stephen Cuddy.

Noah Cuddy said: “Today was class! Our team has gotten so much better since the season started. Even though everyone thought we were the underdogs, we’ve got some seriously good players that can give any team a run for their money.”

Head of Sport Michael Haycock said: “What really impressed me about the U13 team is how they never gave up, even when things were tough against a really strong Friends team. Noah Cuddy always steps up when it

matters most, and he was so calm when we needed that equaliser to push for penalty runs. And when it came to the shootout, we’re lucky to have Marcus Gillis in goal – he’s like a brick wall! It’s amazing because we’ve never retained the Bannister before, so this win means a lot to us.”