ACHL Division 1
Dunloy 0-26 Ballycastle 0-11
Thursday July 27
Pearse Park, Dunloy
By Brendan McTaggart
Dunloy got back to winning ways on Thursday evening with a comfortable 15 point victory over Ballycastle at Pearse Park. The margin of victory was probably the least the home side deserved with some wayward shooting in the opening quarter and the reflexes of Ryan McGarry between the sticks for Ballycastle preventing a greater margin of victory.
After a stuttering start to the match where the Cuchullains hit nine wides in the opening 12 minutes, Ballycastle held a one point lead by the 24th minute having scored three points unanswered with Ciaran Clarke accurate form placed ball and Ciaran Butler causing problems on the edge of the Dunloy square. The Cuchullain’s found another level before half time and scored five points before the short whistle with Nicky McKeague and Nigel Elliott in particular looking lively on the ’40.
In the late scoring blitz Dunloy and Keelan Molloy were denied a goal with Ryan McGarry equal to Molloy’s drive that looked certain to hit the top corner from 25 yards out. The home side had to settle for a four point half time lead but they picked up in the second half where they left off before the short whistle with intensity, speed and ability that left Ballycastle chasing shadows for much of the second half. Two more scores from Paul Shiels and Nicky McKeague meant it was seven unanswered for the home side before a point from Clarke at the other end finally got Ballycastle ticking again in the second half.
A brilliant McGarry stop to deny Conal Cunning from finding the bottom corner kept his clean sheet intact but it did little to thwart the Dunloy challenge who were relentless in the second half. Conal Cunning was finding space at will and landed five points over the hour while ‘Shorty’ was showing signs that he is back to his brilliant best in midfield. Shiels would finish the hour with a personal tally of 0-6, five points alone in the second half.
Ballycastle had fleeting moments in the second half with Ciaran Butler causing problems but with Phelim Duffin and Chris Kearns covering superbly in either corner and Conor McKinley dominant at centre half, Ballycastle were living off scraps in the second half.
The Cuchullain’s emptied their sub bench in the final quarter but showed no signs of easing their relentless tenacity as the McQuillan’s heads began to drop. Points for substitutes Eoin O’Neill and a late Ally Dooey point added further gloss to the score line for the home side
The result keeps the fate of both sides still in each other’s hands as the league campaigns draw to an end. Ballycastle are still in real danger of being relegated from the top flight with just one league win to their name in 2017 and now five points behind Rossa who have played a game less while the Cuchullains know that if they win their remaining three fixtures then the league crown will reside in Pearse Park with their match against Loughgiel on August 9 a potential league decider.
Dunloy: Ryan Elliott; Phelim Duffin; James McKeague; Chris Kearns; Kevin McKeague; Conor McKinley; Kevin Molloy; Michael McClements; Paul Shiels; Nigel Elliott; Gabriel McTaggart; Nicky McKeague; Conal Cunning; Chrissy Brogan; Keelan Molloy
Subs: Ally Dooey for Keelan Molloy (45 mins); Eoin O’Neill for Nicky McKeague (49 mins); Ciaran Elliott for Michael McClements (50 mins); Eamon Smyth for Nigel Elliott (52 mins); Adam O’Kane for Chris Kearns (56 mins)
Ballycastle: Ryan McGarry; Oran Kearney; Matthew Donnelly; Paul McLernon; Ben McQuillan; Neal McAuley; Dermot Donnelly; Conor Boyd; Kevin-Barry McShane; Conial Brown; Ciaran Clarke; Conaire Butler; Ciaran Laverty; Ciaran Butler; Andrew Lofthouse
Dunloy: Nicky McKeague 0-7 (6 frees, 1 ’65); Paul Shiels 0-6 (2 frees); Conal Cunning 0-5; Nigel Elliott 0-3; Keelan Molloy 0-1; Kevin Molloy 0-1; Conor McKinley 0-1; Eoin O’Neill 0-1; Ally Dooey 0-1
Ballycastle: Ciaran Clarke 0-8 (5 frees); Kevin-Barry McShane 0-1; Conial Brown 0-1; Ciaran Butler 0-1
Referee: Michael Hasson (Rasharkin)