Blackpool Cup Report – 2011s

Blackpool Cup Report – 2011s

Cookstown Youth 2011’s Blackpool Cup report

What a remarkable journey.

Not the 294.6 (or so) odd miles from Cookstown to Blackpool by land and sea – but a journey when 10 lads became stronger and smarter footballers, became better friends, worked harder than ever before, and became deserved winners of the Blackpool Cup 2022. Pre-departure, a blow to the team was to leave 5 talented players behind due to the 7-a-side setup. Djorky, Harry, Cathal, John and Padraig would support the boys regardless and join with them again in the Mid Ulster League Plate Final the following Saturday.

Two busloads of buzzing bleary-eyed kids rolled off at 4am-ish to represent both their Cookstown Youth team and the Club in Blackpool 2022. Hopes of a kip on the bus for the team coaches were instantly dashed when the lads got
together on the bus. Excitement, optimism, one or two songs and mighty craic would soon make a 12hr journey fly by. Other team rivals from NI would be spotted on the Ferry, Irish and Scottish teams eyed-up at Gretna Green – as the boys became aware of how highly respected and highly competitive this tournament would be.

A few wedding pics at Gretna, an Irn-Bru, tartan hats with ginger wigs, leg stretch, some jumbo sausage rolls and beans, then a spin past the lake district and Yorkshire dales and we were there – 6pm Friday! A quick hotel check-in and off on tram to the Opening Ceremony at the base of the Blackpool Tower. An event to be remembered (for all sorts of reasons), and the circus venue gave the lads a great chance to observe the number of teams involved UK/Ireland wide and a team from Poland. The energy and enthusiasm in the arena was fantastic and helped the boys bond as they awaited Saturday’s football. Saturday was a late kick off, so Manager Stevie Ward took the lads for a relaxing stroll on the beach to settle the minds (and allowing other coaches a quick 10-mile morning run). A bus with just the U11’s made their way to the venue.

Any remaining nerves disappeared when Kyra Kelly shared a few Cookstown Youth tunes; a sign song burst into life with Tiernan, Cookie & Ethan Montgomery getting the boys motivated and ready for action.

Team: Riley Watters; Rory Rushe; Tiernan Gormley; Riley Cooke; Tommy O’Hare; Jonny
Jeffers; Jake Mulligan; Ethan McElhatton; Matthew Ward; Ethan Montgomery

The football – Saturday.
Group C4 – Cookstown Youth U11s 1 – 0 Little Dynamos (Scotland)
The Opening game and perhaps the most important to get off to a winning start. The Little
Dynamos of Scotland shared the same hotel as the Youths U11’s and had been very vocal
the night before with their team songs and confidence. They didn’t sing much after this
game however. The Youth’s dominated possession throughout with very few chances
conceded but the challenge was just to get the goals at the other end. Great midfield play
by Ethan Mc, Tommy and Jonny created opportunities that just would not go in. Finally, the
breakthrough when Matthew Ward found Jonny Jeffers free to find the back of the net and
start the campaign rolling.
Man of the Match (shared); Jonny, Jake and Ethan Mc!
Group C4 Game 2 – Cookstown Youth U11s 5 – 0 Dundee West (Scotland)
This was the match were the U11s settled from the outset and played their fast passing
game to devastating effect.
Credit to the Dundee side for effort but the relentless runs of Jake, Tommy, Jonny, Ethan
Mc, Matthew and Ethan Montgomery ripped them apart from start to finish. The solid
defence of Tiernan, Rory and Riley Cooke calmly controlled any threat in their half and Riley
Watters would claim every ball that got close to goal.
A superb display. Goals by Ethan McElhatton(2), Matthew Ward (2, pen), Jake Mulligan.
Assists by Jake, Rory and Ethan Mont.
Man of the Match Ethan McElhatton!
Group C4 Game 3 Cookstown Youth U11s 3 -0 Park Villa (Scotland)
Another entirely different game for the U11s to adopt too. Park Villa were physical and
hard-hitting, (surprising for a Glasgow team) – which would have scared off many a team,
but not these Cookstown lads. Not only did they raise their game and matched their
opponents tackling, they played with even greater intensity and fire to dispose of a very
capable team 3-0. Park Villa had no response after seeing the Youth’s rise to the challenge.
Another fine display all over the pitch and a third well-earned clean sheet for the day.
Goals: Matthew (2); Tommy
Assists: Matthew and Jonny
Man of the Match : Tommy O’Hare!

Saturday Evening – Three wins out of three, more sing songs on the bus back to Hotel
Paradiso, and big dreams and ambitions for the next day.
Rather than enjoy the envious luxurious facilities at the team hotel, coach Monty used his
expertise and brought the lads back to earth with a dip in the sea to help recovery of the
muscles and a bit of team bonding to reflect on the day and plan for tomorrow.
Back for the evening meal – thankfully beans were an option.
Sunday 1 ST May , Finals day –
Quarter finals Cookstown Youth U11s 1 v Dundee West Reds 1
Almost an injustice if the Youths had lost this game. Starting strongly with almost all
possession, got behind the Dundee defence many times but just couldn’t poke it home. in
very wet conditions, so many fine efforts by Ethan Montgomery and Matthew were held by
the Dundee keeper. Disaster struck well into the 2 nd half and a rare Dundee attack saw them
sneak a goal against the run of play (the only goal they would concede in the tournament).
The Youths never gave in and pushed forward in attack, wave after wave. With only 2
minutes on the clock Tommy found space to angle a cross which was steered in off Mathew
Ward – pure elation for the lads, parents, coaches and travelling fans (John and his mum
No extra Time – straight to pens
The Youths were unlucky -first pen just cleared the crossbar – Dundee scored (0-1)
Matthew scored(top right)! – Dundee scored (01-02)
Jonny scored (bottom left)! – Dundee scored (02-03)
Tommy scored (bottom left)! – Dundee scored – (03-04)
Jake scored(bottom left)! – Dundee hit the post – (04-04) !!!! Back in it!
Ethan Montgomery, coolly sends the keeper the wrong way and into the right corner to
put the Youths ahead for the first time at 5-4 and if anyone ‘knows their beans’ about
penalties it’s Riley Watters. He had got his fingers to 3 previous penalties and leapt like a
salmon to save the Dundee penalty and send the Youths into the Semi-final of the
Blackpool Cup! Sheer relief and elation all-round the pitch side. A team pile-on and then
preparation for the next game.
This game should never have been so close but the Youths were determined to see it
through. Real teamwork and perseverance.
Man of the Match : Riley Watters!

Semi-Final Cookstown Youth U11s 1 -0 Young Pumas (Airdrie)
Several blood pressure tablets and beta-blockers later, it was back to business for this team
of warriors.
A defensive master class (Tiernan, Rory and Riley Cooke) with the Puma’s getting nothing in
the opposing half. This allowed Jonny Jeffers to run riot in the midfield and helping create
attack after attack. The goal would come from Jonny when he curled in a teasing corner,
and finding back of the net once more. Despite no further goals this was a disciplined
display in which the Youths were never going to lose. Their fitness levels and efforts at
training all season was paying dividends.
Man of the match Jonny Jeffers!
Remarkably, there were no big celebrations by the Youth lads in winning this game and
reaching the final, no singing, chanting of giving coaches the bumps.
They knew there was one more job to do………., no one remembers the runners up.

Cookstown Youth U11s 1 – FC Bridgewater Worsley Devils (Manchester)
The Devils went unbeaten through the group stages and scored 22 and conceded only 2
goals in 240 mins of football throughout the whole tournament – a true test for the Youths
in this cup final (scored 11, conceded 1).
Having lost the Mountjoy Cup final to Cliftonville, and league final to Markethill the previous
season, the Cookstown lads were in no mood to lose this one.
A relaxed warm up to stretch the muscles and recover, and a well-delivered team talk
helped control any nerves and kept focus on the job at hand.
Again the tactic was to take the game to the opposition and Jake Mulligan and Tommy
O’Hare kept charging forward to peg the Manchester outfit back. A few chances came with
Ethan Montgomery, and Matthew Ward coming close. Jonny Jeffers worked tirelessly in the
midfield, then Ethan McElhatton breaking up any midfield attacks and winning possession,
defensively Rory Rushe and Riley Cooke were solid, throwing in some crucial last-ditch
blocks and giving nothing away. Not to mention Tiernan Gormley coming on in the second
half and producing a no-nonsense Man of the Match performance in the centre of defence.
The breakthrough (and only goal) came when Jake again dragged his marker wide, beat him
once more and surged towards goal, he found the feet of Matthew Ward to steer home
from a tight angle for his sixth goal of the tournament.
Victory at last for this team of battlers who deserved nothing less!

A memorable special celebration at full time, with all the other Cookstown Youth team
players entering the pitch for the victory pile on and celebration songs.
This young team have never ‘bean’ happier, their proud parents beaming with delight and
coaches who watched these boys improve all season long and knew they had something
special in them.
They came, they saw, they conquered. Bring on the next one.
The Blackpool Cup is coming home to Cookstown – 2022. Memories and History made.

A presentation took place on the Ferry home for 3 awards:-
Top Goalscorer – Matthew Ward
Player of the Tournament – Tommy O’Hare
Personality of the Tournament – Riley Watters – full of the beans the whole time!
Well done all.
Thanks to the Club, all the organisers for their hard work and for the other team coaches
for all their advice and support. Thanks for the celebrations in Tesco car park on our
return to the town!
Final thanks go to the Parents for sending such a talented, well behaved group of lads!

Well done Cookstown Youth.