All County Hurling League Division 1
Cushendall 0-18 Dunloy 0-12
by John McIlwaine
Dunloy’s unbeaten run in Division 1 of the All County Hurling League came to an end at Pairc Mhuire on Sunday when they were beaten by six points by the home team, a result which sees them drop from top spot down to third in the league table. With both teams short a lot of regulars it is hard to judge where this result stands in relation to the forthcoming championship but despite the absentees this was again a full blooded contest with lots of top class scores. Cushendall were deserved winners but it was far for clear cut the Ruairis had their defence to thank, and goalkeeper Eoin Gillan in particular, for keeping the Cuchullains at bay on two or three occasions.
Playing against the breeze in the opening half Cushendall played midfielder David Delargy in behind their half-back line in a sweeper position, but despite this they were first on the scoreboard as Paddy Mcgill added two points in the fourth and fifth minutes. Dunloy’s Nicky McKeague got his side up and running with two fine scores from play in the sixth and eighth minute to level matters and after Aidan McNaughton had put the home side back in front McKeague hit his third of the game to tie things up at three apiece.
Cushendall pulled two clear with points from Donal and Christy McNaughton in the 12th and 15th minutes, but McKeague was proving a handful for the Ruairi’s defence and he hit his fourth of the day, this time from a 65, after Gillan had turned a goal-bound shot from Alastair Dooey around his near post. Aidan McNaughton opened the gap to two again with a well struck shot from distance and though Conal Cunning showed great skill to pull one back for Dunloy the Ruairis were starting to get on top and three points without reply from Paddy McGill (free), Christy McNaughton and Cormac McClafferty sent them in the break with a 0-9 to 0-4 lead.
Cushendall’s five point lead was out to six within a minute of the restart as McGill added to his tally and though Cunning found a reply within thirty seconds Cushendall came again when Christy McNaughton landed a good score from out on the right wing. Three on the bounce by Dunloy’s Nicky McKeague revived the visitors fortunes and suddenly the game was very much in the melting pot and though David Kearney settle Cushendall nerves with a clever score, the gap was back to two soon afterwards when Conal Cunning robbed the hitherto impeccable Arron Graffin and slotted over his third score of the game. With just seven minutes left for play the game appeared to be in the balance but just as they had done at the end of the first half Cushendall were able to up the pace when it was needed and two neat points from Ryan Delargy, one each from Eunan McKillop and Paddy McGill saw them secure the points with six to spare.
Cushendall scorers – Paddy McGill 0-5 (2f); Christy McNaughton 0-3; Ryan Delary; 0-3; Aidan McNaughton 0-2; Donal McNaughton, Cormac Clafferty, David Kearney, Paddy Burke, Eunan McKillop 0-1 each.
Dunloy scores – Nickey McKeague 0-6 (2f & 1 ‘65’); Conal Cunning 0-2; Alister Dooey 0-1; Kevin Molloy 0-1; Paul Shields 0-1.
Eoin Gillan, Ryan McCambridge, Arron Graffin, Stephen Walsh, Mark Donaghy, Paddy Burke, Cormac McAlister, David Kearney, Aidan McNaughton, Paddy McGill, Eunan McKillop, Donal McNaughton, Ryan Delargy, Cormac McClafferty, Christy McNaughton.
Subs – Karl McKeegan for C McAlister (inj).
Ger Dixon, Tiernan Elliott, James McKeague, Adam O’Kane, Kevin McKeague, Conor McKinley, Kevin Molloy, Michael McClements, Paudie Shivers, Nicky McKeague, Paul Shiels, Eoin O’Neill, Alister Dooey, Kevin McQuillan, Conal Cunning.
Subs – Eamon Smyth for Paudie Shivers (inj); Gabriel McTaggart for Alister Dooey.
Referee – Aidan Kelly (St John’s)