Yesterday Ulster Hockey hosted our annual U15 Boys Finals Day at CIYMS.
The tournament was split into two sections with Cookstown coming out as winners of the Performance Section, whilst Raphoe beat Instonians in the Intermediate Final.
The Performance section got underway with the semi-final stage as Instonians took on Cookstown, whilst Bangor and Lisnagarvey also went head to head.
Our first semi-final was that between Inst and Cookstown and proved to be a very close encounter between two very strong under 15 sides.
The game saw most of the big chances fall to Cookstown but their Belfast opposition proved to be resilient when defending and yet remained a threat on the counter attack. However, neither side were able to find a breakthrough in the 40 minute match with the final score being 0-0.
That meant a shootout was required to separate the teams and it was Cookstown who managed to get the victory after Inst missed two out of four run-ins, whilst they scored all of their own to become the first team to progress to the Performance Final.
In the other semi-final Bangor advanced after a convincing 3-1 victory over Lisnagarvey.
It was the County Down team who looked most comfortable from the moment the match began as they forced their opposition goalkeeper into a handful of save in the opening stages. That early pressure would soon come to fruition as they took the lead after a well worked team goal.
The spirited Garvey squad seemed to react well to going a goal down and created several chances of their own before finally getting their equaliser, but it proved to be nothing more than a consolation goal.
Bangor were soon back in front and this time it was for good, despite being forced into some more defending they added a third goal to double their advantage and seal a 3-1 victory.
That result set them up for a tough final against a Cookstown team who impressed in both qualifying and in their semi-final, whilst they would also prove too strong for Bangor on this occasion.
Another tight game between two deserving finalists, it stayed goalless for the majority of the game despite the County Down side looking the most likely to score in the first half.
Then ten minutes into the second period there was finally a breakthrough and it fell the way of Cookstown. A team goal which was aided by a bit of luck as the ball fell for the attacker in the circle leaving the goalkeeper with no chance.
Before long it was 2-0 when a Reds attacker got to the byline before cutting the ball back to the penalty spot for a teammate and a brilliant first time reverse strike. The two goal advantage proved too much for Bangor to overturn and the game would end without any response and Cookstown being crowned Performance Champions.