ACFL Division 2
Sunday June 25
Pearse Park, Dunloy
Dunloy 1-10 Gort na Mona 1-11
By Brendan McTaggart
Gort na Mona made it two wins from two against South West Antrim opposition in four days on Sunday afternoon after beating Dunloy with one point to spare. After a controversial win against Rasharkin on Wednesday night, the Gort’s were involved in more drama with the home side claiming Padraig McHugh’s injury time winner going to the left of the uprights. Referee Paul Hanna took his time and gave the point much to the delight of the visitors.
Coming into Sunday’s match, Dunloy were on an unwanted run of no win in four games but after back to back draws against Tir na nOg and more recently Naomh Bríd, the Cuchullains were beginning to look like the team that started the season so impressively.
Playing with a strong wind at their backs in the opening half, the home side made all the early running but with the Gorts impressive in defence, scoring chances were at a premium. Two frees from last year’s minor starlets Conal Cunning and Keelan Molloy got the Cuchullains off and running before Conor McKinley scored the first point from play in the ninth minute.
With Gort holding all the aces in the aerial exchanges in the middle third, they started to get a foothold on the game. David McErlean marshalling the Gort defence superbly, Dermott McCabe and Caoimin Magee took control at midfield. Some patient play and good ball retention from the Gorts yielded their first score of the match, Patrick McCaffrey splitting the posts in the 15th minute before Padraig McHugh scored his first of three points over the hour to leave the minimum between the sides.
Molloy and Cunning were creating havoc in the Gort defence with Karl Fitzpatrick and McKinley making strong runs from deep, Dunloy finished the half strongly. McKinley scored a magnificent point from the side line only for McHugh to cancel out from placed ball moments later. The Dunloy centre half forward took his first half tally to four points with a brace in the closing stages to give the home side a three point lead at the short whistle.
Three points was a slender lead for the Cuchullains. The visitors had would have been more than happy with their first half performance and with the wind at their back in the second period, they started the second half with more attacking intent. A brace of frees from Dermott McVeigh brought them to within a point of the home side before Molloy got the Cuchullains off and running again in the second half with a free in the 36th minute.
Gort corner forward McCaffrey scored the first goal of the game and he won’t score an easier goal the rest of the year. McVeigh sent a high ball to the edge of the square where Dunloy full back Duanne Scott and ‘keeper Sean Doherty both contested. Gort full forward Christopher Carson managed to break the ball into McCaffrey’s path and the Gort man finished into an empty net to give the visitors the lead for the first time in the match.
The Turf Lodge men had another chance moments later and it came under similar circumstances. A long ball, this time from McHugh was broke down by Carson but Doherty managed to squeeze McCaffrey’s effort to safety.
A close call for the home side but with their next attack, the Cuchullains dealt a blow to Gorts hopes. A flowing move involving Oran Quinn, McKinley and Molloy resulted in Conal Cunning in space. ‘Coby’ was still 25 yards from goal but the Dunloy man unleashed a rasping drive high to the back of Thomas McCaffrey’s net after 14 second half minutes to restore the Cuchullain lead.
Like the visitors, the Cuchullains had a golden chance with their next attack to double their goal tally. Cunning finding Molloy in space but his effort flashed wide with Kevin McAllister in space at the back post. A chance missed and the visitors hit back. Three unanswered scores, substitutes Dessie McClean and Niall Mullaney splitting the posts before McVeigh added his third free of the match to give the visitors a one point lead with less than eight minutes to play.
Molloy scored his third of the match, fisting over from an acute angle to tie the sides for the second time in the match but Gort had the bit between their teeth in the closing stages. McClean scored his second of the match with a composed finish under pressure and McVeigh pointed for his fourth of the half to give Gort na Mona a two point lead with time running out.
The home side abandoned their sweeping tactics with Ryan Elliott pushing further up the pitch in an attempt to get back into the game and two frees, one each for McKinley and Molloy in the 58th and 60th minutes looked to have earned the Cuchullains a third draw in succession.
Gort mustered one last blow though with Padraig McHugh swinging over the winning score in injury time with the home side adamant that the ball sailed wide. With the game in the melting pot in the closing stages, tempers threatened to boil over but referee Paul Hanna did well to regain control and there was still time for the Cuchullains to tie the sides again but Gort held out for a hard earned victor by the narrowest of margins.
It’s now no wins in five for the Cuchullains and when the league resumes in a fortnights time they host local rivals Rasharkin in what promises to be a cracking game while Gort na Mona will welcome All Saints on the same day.
Sean Doherty; Conor Kinsella; Duanne Scott; Jamie McFerran; Christopher McMahon; Karl O’Kane; Oran Quinn; Miceal Murphy; Karl Fitzpatrick; Nigel Elliott; Conor McKinley; Kevin McAllister; Keelan Molloy; Ryan Elliott; Conal Cunning
Scorers: Conor McKinley 0-5 (1 free); Keelan Molloy 0-4 (3 frees); Conal Cunning 1-1 (1 free)
Gort na Mona:
Thomas McCaffrey; Conor Connolly; Thomas McGoran; Christopher Devlin; Padraig Mulvenna; David McErlean; Declan McComb; Dermott McCabe; Caoimin Magee; Dermott McVeigh; Sean Doyle; Sean Campbell; Patrick McCaffrey; Christopher Carson; Padraig McHugh
Scorers: Dermott McVeigh 0-4 (3 frees); Patrick McCaffrey 1-1; Padraig McHugh 0-3 (1 free); Dessie McClean 0-2; Niall Mullaney 0-1
Referee: Paul Hanna (Glenavy)