U21 Football Championship – Group 3
Dunloy Cuchullains 1-14 St Ergnat’s Moneyglass 4-5
Tuesday November 20
Brendan McTaggart reports from Fr McGuigan Park, Ahoghill
On a bitterly cold night in Clooney, Dunloy and Moneyglass produced a classic. There was no sign of ‘puke football’ at Fr McGuigan Park as the top two sides of Group 3 went toe to toe in a fight to see who would finish top of the group. In the end, Seaan Elliott’s third point of the match in the fourth minute of injury time brought the Cuchullains back from the brink to earn a share of the points.
In a hugely entertaining match with mistakes, goal chances going a begging and some outstanding scores, both will wonder how they didn’t come away with the win. Moneyglass held an eight point lead at the short whistle and despite the Cuchullains starting the second half strongly, their fourth goal of the game from midfielder Tiernan Duffin in the 44th minute opened a nine point lead and looked to have sealed a Moneyglass victory. Duffin’s major was their last and only score of the second half though as Dunloy made a stirring comeback. 1-6 unanswered with the goal coming from Conal Cunning and Elliott’s point just rewards for the Dunloy men.
The concession of soft goals looked to have harmed their chances in the first half. Despite dominating possession and looking a better side for long periods of the first half, Dunloy were pegged back with goals from Dermot McErlain, Conaill Prenter and Ben Hamill. Moneyglass were more clinical and despite the Cuchullains playing with the wind at their back in the second half, would have been confident of holding off any response from the Cuchullains but a late run of five points from the 55th minute ensured both sides progress to the ‘A’ competition with their unbeaten records still intact.
Both sides made a confident start with Dunloy probing the Moneyglass defence. The wind was beginning to shape the opening exchanges as Moneyglass sat deep, forcing Dunloy into kicking long but the Cuchullains could have had a goal in the first attack. Chrissy McMahon’s effort for holding up in the wind and with Eoin O’Neill claiming the lose ball, he should have done better. Moneyglass recovered and countered to score the opening goal of the game in the second minute. Dermot McErlain gathering the ball down the right and sent an effort towards the posts but his shot dropped behind Oisin McPoland in the Dunloy goals to give Moneyglass the perfect start.
Dunloy continued to dominate possession and Moneyglass were happy to soak up possession and counter with pace. Jack McCoy scored Moneyglass’ first point of the match in the 12th minute before a slick move from the Cuchullains through the Moneyglass defence allowed Keelan Molloy to open Dunloy’s account in the 15th minute.
It was by no means a classic in the opening quarter as both sides sized each other up but Moneyglass took the momentum with their ability to create and score goals in the second quarter. Prenter opened his account with a tidy point in the 18th minute before scoring Moneyglass’ second major of the contest. The St Ergnat’s men intercepted a short Dunloy kick out and the Moneyglass full forward was never going to miss with the goal at his mercy.
A Molloy free was answered by a mammoth point by Moneyglass centre half Paul Tohill and while Dunloy looked to have found another gear in attack with Seaan Elliott and Molloy firing over to reduce the Moneyglass lead to five points, the St Ergnat’s men countered once again by scoring their third goal in the 23rd minute. Prenter collecting a long ball before laying the pass perfectly to Ben Hamill and the Moneyglass man slotted to the bottom corner.
A brace of frees from Prenter opened a 10 point lead for Moneyglass and while the Cuchullains responded with Molloy’s fourth of the half (free) and Elliott’s second, they trailed by eight points at the short whistle.
Man of the match Deáglán Smith
Half time: Moneyglass 3-5 Dunloy 0-6
With a substantial wind at their back, eight points was by no means insurmountable for the Cuchullains. They made a bright start to the second half with Chrissy McMahon landing a brace of superb points but a series of wides and shots dropping short didn’t allow the Cuchullains to build the momentum they would need to overturn the Moneyglass lead.
The St Ergnat’s men were looking lively on the counter with McErlain and midfielder Michael McLaughlin influential and it was through McErlain that they should have scored their fourth goal. The Moneyglass man used his pace to evade a duo of Dunloy challenges before laying the ball to Hamill. The Moneyglass man pulled his shot to the left of the post and wide. Disappointing for the St Ergna’s men at the time but it was short lived as they scored their fourth goal with the next attack. Again coming from a poor kick out and midfielder Tiernan Duffin managing to squeeze the ball over the line to open what felt like a game winning lead of nine points with a little over a quarter of the game remaining.
The Dunloy response was outstanding. Conal Cunning landed his first point of the match in the 46th minute before bravely scoring the Cuchullains goal just two minutes later. Cunning was in the right place at the right time to punch the ball to the net after good work from Eoin O’Neill down the left.
The Cuchullains sensed a comeback with the Moneyglass lead down to five but the St Ergnat’s men were looking composed in possession. They looked to keep the ball and try to suck the life out of the game in the closing stages but the Dunloy defence forced turnovers and created pressure on Moneyglass. Every time they went forward, the Moneyglass defence looked like yielding a score. With Deáglán Smith orchestrating from midfield, the Cuchullains turned the screw. Eoghan McGrath landed the first from distance before a brace from Deáglán Smith (one free) left two between the sides in the last minute of normal time.
Dunloy were relentless in injury time and got their reward with Molloy and Elliott bringing the sides level at the end of a hugely entertaining game of championship football. Both sides should take credit in how they played on the night but while Cuchullains look forward to the A Championship draw it is the B section for Moneyglass, despite their heroic efforts in the competition, though they must fancey their chances of doing well.
Dunloy: Oisin McPoland; Oisin McErlane, Aaron Crawford, Anton McGrath; Ryan Elliott, Callum Scullion, Conor Kinsella; Keelan Molloy, Deáglán Smith; Chrissy McMahon, Conal Cunning, Eoghan McGrath; Anthony Smith, Eoin O’Neill, Seaan Elliott.
Moneyglass: Gary Murray; Peter McCormick, Eamonn Kelly, Michael Martin; Patrick McCormick, Paul Tohill, Oisin Duffin; Michael McLaughlin, Tiernan Duffin; Ben Hamill, Ronan Graham, Dermot McErlain; Gavin Murray, Conaill Prenter, Jack McCoy.
Scorers for Dunloy: Keelan Molloy 0-5 (2 f’s); Conal Cunning 1-1 (1f); Seaan Elliott 0-3; Deáglán Smith 0-2 (1f); Chrissy McMahon 0-2; Eoghan McGrath 0-1.
Scorers for Moneyglass: Conaill Prenter 1-3 (2f’s); Tiernan Duffin 1-00; Ben Hamill 1-00; Dermot McErlain 1-00; Paul Tohill 0-1; Jack McCoyy 0-1.
Referee: Jarlath O’Donnell (Con Magees)