McCormick Cup quarter-final
Aghagallon 2-6 Dunloy 6-9
St Mary’s Aghagallon welcomed Dunloy to Pairc Na Gael on Wednesday evening for this McCormick Cup quarter final clash. Played in perfect conditions it was the away team who came out of the blocks the quickest and raced into a 5 point lead, courtesy of a goal from Anthony Smith after only 4minutes to give Dunloy a perfect start. The home side did respond with point of their own on 7 minutes with a fine individual effort from Niall McShane, but that would prove to be their only score for the next 14minutes as Dunloy grabbed a foothold in the game. With some good build up play and movement in their forward line they were able to find holes in the St Mary’s defence and score 2-5 without reply. Anthony Smith collecting his second goal of the game.
The St Mary’s men were struggling to retain possession in the middle third and get their forwards into the game but they were finally rewarded for their endeavour when Conor McKavanagh hit a long range effort that sailed over the black spot. This seemed to lift the home team and gave them some belief to have a go at the Dunloy defence but on three separate occasions they had goal chances denied through a combination of resolute defending and the crossbar. During the same period of play, Dunloy also managed to create three goal scoring opportunities and were able to take two of them which effectively ended the game as a contest. Another point from Niall McShane just before the short whistle left the half time score Aghagallon 0-3 Dunloy 5-7.
As the second half got under way, Aghagallon needed a bright start if they were going to make any in roads on the half time deficit and they got off to the perfect start when substitute Marc McAfee rifled the ball into the Dunloy net in the first minute. St Mary’s started to get on top in the middle third with Davy McAlernon, Niall Rodgers and Niall McShane all working hard to bring their team back into the game and when Dunloy were reduced to 14men after just 34minutes and then 13 men after 50 minutes it seemed that there could be another twist in the game. Furthermore, when dynamic half forward Johnny Harbinson went on the attack and played a one two with full forward Sean Brannigan he finished low to the bottom left hand corner of the net and it was certainly game on with 17minutes left of normal time. This was followed up with further points from Conor McKavanagh and Niall McShane and the St Mary’s men had now started to grow in belief with the numerical advantage and the scoreline now reading 2-6 to 5-9 going into the last 10 minutes.
However, the Dunloy men retreated back into their own half to stifle the Aghagallon attack and stop the momentum, playing a very intelligent counter attacking game to take back control in the closing stages. With the clock running down and the Aghagallon men pushing forward in search of more scores it inevitably left gaps at the back which were ably exploited by a very fit and efficient Dunloy team. A sixth goal after 55 minutes by midfielder Peter McQuillan sealed the win for Dunloy who now march on to the semi-final and will prove to be a difficult proposition for their next opponents as they go in search for some early season silverware.