U21 Football Championship – Play-Off
Dunloy Cuchullains 3-20 St Ergnat’s Moneyglass 2-10
Saturday November 24
Brendan McTaggart reports from Fr McGuigan Park, Ahoghill
A superb second half performance from Dunloy ensured they would progress to the A grade of the U21 football Championship on Saturday afternoon. After trailing Moneyglass by two points at the half time whistle, Dunloy produced a clinical 30 minutes to run out 13 point winners and every inch as comfortable as the score line suggests.
The Cuchullains bagged three majors through the hour – Conal Cunning adding a brace of goals after the restart along with Eoghan McGrath’s seventh minute effort and while Dunloy might have been wasteful in the first half, they were devastating in the second.
The St Ergnat’s men started slowly but with Tiernan Duffin and Paul Tohill influencing, they kept the Cuchullains under pressure from kick outs. Moneyglass were clinical and methodical, playing to their strengths in the first half and capitalising on an errant first half performance from the Cuchullains. Ronan Graham bagged their first goal in the 13th minute as they controlled the first half.
Dunloy dominated after the restart however and Moneyglass couldn’t stop the wave after wave of fast, incisive and quality football from the Cuchullains. Sean Kelly scored a late consolation major but it did little to take away from what was a hugely impressive second half performance from the Cuchullains.
Dunloy made all the early running to this play-off tie with midfielder Deáglán Smith splitting the posts for the first score of the match after barely 30 seconds. Just like Tuesday night, the Cuchullains were tidy in possession but lacked composure when it mattered most. They created the first goal scoring chance in the fifth minute but Gary Murray denied Anthony Smith with a brave save.
Paul Tohill abandoned his centre half berth to score Moneyglass’ first point of the match in the sixth minute but he had goal on his mind. Dunloy ‘keeper Frankie Cochrane producing a top drawer save to deny the Moneyglass man.
The first major came with the next attack. Seaan Elliott played a high cross-field ball into the full forward line where Conal Cunning broke the ball into the path of Eoghan McGrath. ‘Tuggy’ made no mistake when presented with the chance, giving Murray no chance in the Moneyglass goals.
The St Ergnat’s response was instant with Tiernan Duffin firing over the black spot after a strong run through the heart of the Dunloy defence but the Cucuhullains were still enjoying the lions share of possession and should have had their second goal in the 10th minute. A flowing move from Anthony Smith into Eoin O’Neill and across to Cunning presented the Dunloy man with the chance but a block from Sean Kelly deflected the ball into the path of ‘keeper Murray, denying Cunning a certain goal.
The reprieve seemed to act as a catalyst for the Moneyglass men as they began to find their form. Dermot McErlain fired over to reduce the Dunloy lead to the minimum before St Ergnat’s fired their first goal of the match. Ronan Graham with the finish after Gavin Murray brought the best out of Dunloy ‘keeper Cochrane. Graham was first to the rebound and Moneyglass had the lead for the first time in the match in the 13th minute.
Keelan Molloy fired over to give the Cuchullains an instant reply but Moneyglass were beginning to take over at midfield and keep the Dunloy defence under pressure. A brace of points from Conaill Prenter (free) and Jack McCoy was just reward for the Moneyglass men with their attacking play causing Dunloy problems and while Seaan Elliott fired over for the Cuchullains in the 21st minute, Moneyglass were in control.
Jack McCoy and Deáglán Smith swapped scores before a brace of scores from Tohill and Prenter (free) opened a four point lead for Moneyglass in the 27th minute. The Cuchullains finished the half on top though with Cunning and Callum Scullion reducing the Moneyglass lead to two points. The Cuchullains should have had their second goal on the stroke of half time but O’Neill was denied by a double save from ‘keeper Murray.
Half time score: Dunloy 1-6 Moneyglass 1-8
The Cuchullains were wasteful and Moneyglass took full advantage. They had the measure of Dunloy in the second quarter and would have been satisfied with their first half performance. But for all the wastefulness of the Cuchullains in the opening 30 minutes, they were equally devastating after the restart.
By the fourth minute of the second half the Cuchullains were back on terms with Chrissy McMahon and Keelan Molloy (free) splitting the uprights. Molloy and Anthony Smith (two) gave them a three point lead soon after as the Cuchullains began to turn the screw and up the pressure on the St Ergnat’s defence.
Molloy’s second free of the match in the 42nd minute was added to by Cunning grabbing their second goal moments later. Eoin O’Neill with the assist and ‘Coby’ with the finish to put the Cuchullains in the driving seat.
Coby added a free before finding the back of the net in the 47th minute to finish a devastating counter. Chrissy McMahon with the initial charge before passing to Deáglán Smith. The Dunloy midfielder found Cunning and he applied the finish making it 2-9 without reply for the Cuchullains.
A run of four points in as many minutes from Seaan Elliott, Deáglán Smith (two) and Scullion gave the Cuchullains a 15 point lead before Prenter’s third free of the match stopped the Dunloy charge and give Moneyglass their first score for 26 minutes.
Dunloy continued to fire over their points – Deáglán Smith (free), McMahon and Molloy finding the target with a Prenter free in response for Moneyglass. Sean Kelly fired a consolation goal in the last minute of normal time for the St Ergant’s men but it did little to deflect from a comprehensive victory for the Cuchullains as they march on to the ‘A’ Championship quarter-finals with Moneyglass finding themselves in the ‘B’ championship.
Dunloy: Frankie Cochrane; Oisin McErlane, Conor Kinsella, Ciaran McQuillan; Chrissy McMahon, Ryan Elliott, Aaron Crawford; Callum Scullion, Deáglán Smith; Anthony Smith, Keelan Molloy, Eoghan McGrath; Conal Cunning, Eoin O’Neill, Seaan Elliott.
Moneyglass: Gary Murray; Peter McCormick, Eamonn Kelly, Sean Kelly; 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: Conal Cunning 2-2 (1f); Deáglán Smith 0-5 (1f); Keelan Molloy 0-5 (2 f’s); Eoghan McGrath 1-00; Chrissy McMahon 0-2; Callum Scullion 0-2; Anthony Smith 0-2; Seaan Elliott 0-2.
Scorers for Moneyglass: Conaill Prenter 0-4 (4 f’s); Sean Kelly 1-00; Ronan Graham 1-00; Jack McCoy 0-2; Paul Tohill 0-2; Tiernan Duffin 0-1; Dermot McErlain 0-1.
Referee: Karol Doherty (Rasharkin)