Feis na nGleann 2018
Senior Hurling Semi-Final
Cushendall 2-17 Dunloy 0-10
Wednesday July 11
Brendan McTaggart reports from Pairc Naomh Mhuire, Cushendall
13 points separated these sides at the end of the hour and the Cuchullains goal keeper Ger Dixon walked off as man of the match. That alone tells you the dominance of the Ruairi’s as they booked their place in Sunday’s Feis final against Loughgiel. The Cuchullains made a host of changes, the majority enforced due to holidays and while the home side weren’t at full strength either, they had more experience and guile where it counted to ensure it was a comfortable hour work for the Cushendall men. It wasn’t the most exciting game ever played and in fact the loudest cheer of the evening came when word filtered through that Croatia had equalised with England in the World Cup, but both teams game 100% nonetheless.
That being said, there was just five points separated the sides at the short whistle – thanks largely to the reflexes of Dixon between the sticks for Dunloy. The Cuchullains shot stopper produced a quite simply unbelievable triple save 11 minutes into the semi-final denying Scott Walsh twice and Cormac McClafferty while denying McCambridge again two minutes before the half time whistle. Cushendall were more fluent and cohesive while it was a disjointed Dunloy performance with their three first half scores coming from frees by Nicky McKeague.
Five points and yet if the normally reliable Nicky McKeague had found his range from placed ball the Cuchullains would have been much closer. Cushendall blitzed the Cuchuallins after the restart scoring 1-3 inside the first four minutes of the second half to ensure the scoreboard reflected their dominance – the goal coming from Fergus McCambridge. The Cuchullains had a more potent attack in the second 30 minutes but Cushendall were too strong all over the pitch with McCambridge grabbing his second major of the match to add gloss to the score line with seven minutes remaining. On any other day the Ruairi Og man would have been a shoe in for man of the match with his tally of 2-5 but Dixon was superb after a busy hour between the posts for the Cuchullains.
The ‘Dall goal chances…
Both sides weren’t firing in the first half in a largely lethargic 30 minutes. Cushendall looked to be busy in the rucks and won the majority of second phase ball but the Dunloy defence were equal to the task in the first half with Karl O’Kane impressing at full back.
Dunloy did open the scoring in the third minute but they wouldn’t trouble the scoreboard operative for another 15 minutes as Cushendall started to find their range. McGill (free), Fergus McCambridge, the impressive Niall McCormick and Eoghan Campbell raised white flags by the 10th minute but it could have been better for the home side but McGill’s effort was saved by Dixon.
The Dunloy shot stopper then produced the extraordinary to deny Scott Walsh and Cormac McClafferty in the 11th minute to keep the Cuchullains within touching distance but Fergus McCambridge’s second point of the match took the Cushendall advantage to four points by the 18th minute.
Nicky McKeague scored the Cuchullains second point of the match in the 19th minute but a trio of points from the impressive Scott Walsh, Francis McCurry and Ryan McCambridge and once again Dixon was called to the Cuchullains rescue as he denied Fergus McCambridge. The Ruairi Og man receiving a delightful pop pass from Ryan McCambridge but he was hooked by the Dunloy defence while Dixon smothered his rebounded effort while on the ground.
Nicky McKeague landed the Cuchullains third point with the last poc of the half, a 50 yard free reducing the deficit to five points at the short whistle.
Cushendall 0-8 Dunloy 0-3
The Ruairi’s were fully deserving of their half time lead and probably deserved to be leading by more despite the Cuchullains profligacy in front of the target but they put the game to bed inside nine second half minutes. Quick fire points from Cormac McClafferty, Fergus McCambridge and Niall McCormick extended their advantage before Fergus McCambridge produced a moment of brilliance to finally get the better of the Dunloy defence. Using his speed to get away from the chasing Cuchullains before finding the bottom corner of the net in the 34th minute.
Liam McCann scored the Cuchullains first point from play with the Dunloy reply and while Eoghan Campbell (free) and Eoin O’Neill traded points, the Ruairi’s were now in cruise control. The sides traded scores, Ryan McCambridge and Nicky McKeague (free) before Fergus McCambridge and McCann raised white flags to leave ten points between the sides going into the final quarter.
Fergus McCambridge took his tally to 1-5 with his fifth point from play as Cushendall continued to turn the screw. Dixon was called into action once again in the 50th minute when he denied McGill and while Nicky McKeague scored his fifth free of the match, the Cuchullains were going to need goals at that stage to get anything out of the game. The goal however came for the home side and Fergus McCambridge once again. Ryan McCambridge producing a drive that was superbly saved by Dixon but Fergus McCambridge was first to the rebound and hit the sliotar first time to the back of the net.
Nicky McKeague and Eoin O’Neill landed points either side of scores from Paddy Burke and Cormac McClafferty as the Ruairi’s controlled the time that remained to book their final spot and a date with Loughgiel Shamrocks on Sunday in Ballymena.
Cushendall: Eoin Gillan; Joe McCurry, Arron Graffin, Sean Delargy; Liam Gillan, Paddy Burke, Mark Donaghy; Eoghan Campbell, Francis McCurry; Scott Walsh, Fergus McCambridge, Ryan McCambridge; Cormac McClafferty, Paddy McGill, Niall McCormick
Dunloy: Ger Dixon; Phelim Duffin, Karl O’Kane, Adam Mullan; Eamon Smyth, James McKeague, Oran Quinn; Ciaran Elliott, Stephen McGuigan; Miceal Murphy, Eoin O’Neill, Nicky McKeague; Tiernan Elliott, Shane Dooey, Liam McCann
Scorers for Cushendall: Fergus McCambridge 2-5; Cormac McClafferty 0-2; Ryan McCambridge 0-2; Niall McCormick 0-2; Eoghan Campbell 0-2 (1 f); Paddy Burke 0-1; Francis McCurry 0-1; Scott Walsh 0-1; Paddy McGill 0-1 (1 f)
Scorers for Dunloy: Nicky McKeague 0-6 (6 f’s); Eoin O’Neill 0-2; Liam McCann 0-2
Referee: Michael Hardy (Rasharkin)