ACMHL Division 1
Friday July 28
Cushendall 1-12 Dunloy 1-16
Pairc Mhuire, Cushendall
By Brendan McTaggart
Cushendall played host to the Cuchullains on Friday evening in this top of the table encounter in the minor hurling league. With Swatragh unable to field, the two clubs organised this match between them in what was a dress rehearsal for the Championship in just three weeks’ time.
After a tight first half where the Ruairi’s went into the interval with a two point lead, the visitors to Pairc Mhuire found another gear in the second half. The home side will rue the fact they didn’t register a score for 20 after the restart and it allowed Dunloy to gather momentum after the restart. Seven points separated the sides in the closing stages but a late goal from Ed McQuillan did little more than serve as a consolation for the Ruairi’s as they fell to just their second league defeat of the season. Again, it was Seaan Elliott who did the majority of the damage for the Cuchullains. The Dunloy man finishing the match with a personal tally of 1-10 and added to his growing reputation within the county.
Dunloy started brightly and registered the first three scores of the match. With Seaan Elliott and Liam McCann causing problems from the first whistle the Cuchullains put Cushendall on the back foot. The Ruairi’s soon found their way though and with McQuillan and midfielder Scott Walsh in particular in fine form, they were soon back on terms.
The first sight of goal fell to the home side in the 14th minute when Niall McCormick cut across the Dunloy defence. His low shot drilled to the wrong side of the post for the Ruairi’s but scores from the half forward and McQuillan gave Cushendall the lead for the first time in the match in the 16th minute.
The sides went score for score in the remainder of the half with Cushendall’s Shane Magill playing superbly at half back and John McAlister looking lively in the full forward line for the hosts. Cushendall scored the last two scores of the half ensuring they held a deserving two point lead at the interval. Half time score Cushendall 0-11 Dunloy 0-9.
Dunloy rejigged their line up in the second half with Eoghan McGrath and Callum Scullion moving into the middle of the park but it was the Ruairi’s who started the second half brightly only for their shooting to let them down. They recorded three wide’s before Seaan Elliott scored the first score of the second half in the 34th minute. It was the first of six unanswered scores for the Cuchullains who dominated Cushendall with their half back line in superb form, Ronan Molloy and full back Ryan McGarry shinning as the match progressed.
As legs began to tire in both defences, goal chances materialised but both Adam Mooney and Ruairi Sharpe were in superb form. Firstly Sharpe denied Elliott after the Dunloy man escaped the clutches of Liam Gillan then 60 seconds later Mooney brilliantly thwarted McQuillan with a point blank reflex save.
The first goal of the game came in the 52nd minute and it came inevitably form the hurl of Elliott but owed much to the ingenuity of Scullion and substitute Sean O’Neill. Elliott’s major put six between the sides and when Eoghan McGrath pointed moments later the writing was on the wall for the Ruairi’s. To their credit they fought on and laid an aerial assault on the Dunloy goal, getting their rewards in the second minute of injury time when McQuillan found the back of Mooney’s net but it was too little, too late for the Ruairi’s as time ran out for any perspective comeback.
The Ruairi’s still sit top of the minor ‘A’ hurling league in a three way tie but if Rossa and Dunloy win their respective games in hand they can overtake them. The league remains in the hands of the Shaws Road side who have yet to taste defeat this year and have inflicted the only defeat the Cuchullains have tasted in the 2017 league. The next time Cushendall take to the pitch could go some way in deciding the fate of the league crown as they entertain Rossa on August 11 while the Cuchullains have no matches fixed until their Championship date with the Ruairi’s on August 18.
Cushendall: Ruairi Sharpe; Ruari McCollam; Liam Gillan; Ronan McAteer; Shane Magill; Conall McAteer; Francis McCurry; Scott Walsh; Aidan Kitson; Niall Allen; Ronan McCambridge; Niall McCormick; Christopher McLaughlin; Ed McQuillan; John McAlister
Dunloy: Adam Mooney; Ryan McFarline; Ryan McGarry; Eoin McMullan; Patrick Kinsella; Ronan Molloy; Eoghan McGrath; Deáglán Smith; Paddy Graffin; Callum Scullion; Liam McCann; Nathan Richmond; Anton McGrath; Seaan Elliott; Oisin McErlane
Ed McQuillan 1-5 (2 frees); Scott Walsh 0-3 (1 ’65); Niall McCormick 0-2; Conall McAteer 0-1 (1 free); Niall Allen 0-1
Seaan Elliott 1-10 (7 frees, 1 ’65); Ronan Molloy 0-1 (1 free); Eoghan McGrath 0-1; Deáglán Smith 0-1; Liam McCann 0-1; Nathan Richmond 0-1; Anton McGrath 0-1
Referee: John Carson (Cushendall)