Under-21 Football Championship (Qtr Final)
Cuchullian’s Dunloy 3-14 St Gall’s 0-13
A late goal, dispatched in impressive fashion by stylish centre forward Keelan Molloy was the icing on the cake for Cuchullains as the Dunloy side made their way to the semi-final of the under-21 Football Championship at the expense of a hard working St Gall’s side at the Woodlands on Saturday.
After turning over 1-08 to 0-06 to the good they all but sealed the win when Deaglain Smith grabbed their second goal in the opening minutes of the new half, and when they stretched their lead to 2-11 to 0-07 they seemed secure.
Dunloy captain Conal Cunning gets out in front of his marker to win possession. Pic by Bert Trowlen
But despite the apparent futility of the situation the Milltown lads did not lose faith and continued to snap at the heels of the North Antrim side. When a late Eoghan McCabe and Conor Stinson inspired surge, brought five unanswered points the Milltown side were back in contention but their hopes were dashed when Keelan Molloy, who really looks an individual with a huge future, claimed possession in his own half before setting off on a solo run which ended with him planting the leather in the back of the St Gall’s net to end all doubt.
St Gall’s battled away to the end but the Dunloy side were always in control and they booked a semi final slot with a 3-14 to 0-13 win.
Having impressed on their under-21 campaign to date Dunloy went into this quarter final at the Woodlands arena as favourites to progress, but the opening phase underlined the fact that the Milltown Blues had no intention of assuming the role of bystanders.
The west Belfast side, under the watchful eye of Sean Kelly, was the quicker out of the blocks and after Eoghan Mc Grath missed opportunity to see Dunloy away in front, Michael Hopkins split the posts at the other end and mid-fielder Tom Bunting quickly followed suit.
It took a few minutes for the Cuchullian’s to get the feel of the artificial surface as they spurned a couple of early openings but that was soon set to rights as Keelan Molloy raised back to back white flags from 30 and 40 metres respectively before Eoghan Mc Grath’s delivery opened the way for the fleet of footed Seaan Elliot to add another.
St Gall’s Eoghan McCabe in action against Dunloy’s Deaghlan Smith. Pic by Bert Trowlen.
Having gained traction on the surface Dunloy increased their advantage when Seaan Elliot despatched a long range free between the posts and after St Gall’s centre forward Daniel Murray found space and replied at the other end, an Eoin O’ Neill point saw Dunloy lead 0-05 to 0-03 at the end of the opening quarter.
The strong running Deaglain Smith rose highest to collect the leather at the start of the second quarter and as the St Gall’ defense parted in front of him he took full advantage as he raced through to promptly finish to the net.
Seaan Elliot and Keelan Molloy followed with points apiece and Dunloy had gone 1-07 to 0-03 ahead and seemed in complete control.
St Gall’s having been in the back foot for a few minutes raised their game in the closing stages of the half and dominated the broken ball. Kevin Bradley who was to be prominent in closing minutes of the opening thirty nipped in to fist between the posts in the 21st minute and after the pace laden Conal Cunning, who was first to every ball sent in his direction throughout, replied a couple of minutes later Dunloy finished the period on a positive note to go in at the short whistle with a 1-08 to 0-06 advantage.
St Gall’s emerged from the shelter of the changing facilities for the second half suitably refreshed and akin to the happenings of the first period they were first to strike as Conor Stinton split the posts in the 32nd minute.
A good start for the Milltown lads but their country cousins were not to linger long in admiration as Conal Cunning came again first to collect a Keelan Molloy delivery and send the advancing Callum Scullion in to find the back of the net.
Dunloy had taken hold again and although they proceeded to miss a few and the St Gall’s net minder came out to block a Conal Cunning effort to find his net again further point without reply from Seaan Elliot, Keelan Molloy, and Deaglain Smith ensured a 2-11 to 0-07 advantage at the 40th minute.
The die did look cast as the quarter final tie neared the 45 minute mark as Kevin Bradley reduced advantage with a point before the ever impressive Molloy raced away from defensive duty back on his own ‘40’ to sprint clear with the leather in safe keeping to send between the posts.
The Cuchullian’s advantage was now ten point advantage at 2-12 to 0-08 and when Seaan Elliot added another they seemed in the calm waters of safety.
St Gall’s showed a bit of character however and with Eoghan Mc Cabe and the impressive Marcus Donnelly leading the charge the added a few good scores.
Five unanswered points gave the Milltown men renewed and a 56th minute Kevin Bradley point kept their lingering hopes alive.
However those hopes were soon extinguished when Keelan Molloy broke through the middle and fired home his team’s third goal to seal a place in the semi-finals
Frankie Cochrane, Oisin Mc Erlaine, Conor Kinsella, Aaron Crawford, Chris Mc Mahon, Ryan Elliot, Ciaran Mc Quillan, Callum Scullion (1-00), Deaglain Smith (1-01), Anthony Smith, Keelan Molloy (1-06), Eoghan Mc Grath, Conal Cunning (0-01), Eoin O’ Neill (0-01), Seaan Elliot (0-04)
Ryan Mc Farlane for A Smith
Anton Mc Grath for C Mc Mahon
Ciaran Doherty for E Mc Grath
Paul Mc Laughlin, Ryan Mallon, Marcus Donnelly, Oran Delaney (0-01), Colm Murray (0-01), Eoghan Mc Cabe (0-01), John Mc Caffrey, Paddy Friel, Tom Bunting (0-01), Conor Stinton (0-01), Dan Murray (0-02), Caolan Chada, Kevin Bradley (0-05), Michael Hopkins (0-01), Colm Darby
Subs – Oran Mc Ilhatton for R Mallon
Niall Burns for C Chada
Shay Ferguson for P Friel
Jarlath Mervyn for M Hopkins
Referee Fiontan Mc Cotter (Sarsfield’s)
Pics by Bert Trowlen