Antrim Senior Hurling League Division One
O’Donovan Rossa 1-6 Dunloy Cuchullains 3-12
Dunloy opened the defence of their league title on Sunday when they travelled to Shaw’s Road and beat Rossa with a bit to spare. Gregory O’Kane’s men lost out in this fixture last season but it was clear from an early stage that there was going to be no repeat this time around as the Cuchullains hit the ground running, and when Deaglan Smith got in for a sixth minute goal they were in control.
Conal Cunning had opened the scoring in the third minute with a neat finish and after Smith grabbed his goal three minutes later the visitors had chances to push further ahead with a series of frees. However Paul Shiels was uncharacteristically off with his free taking, a task which was made more difficult by a strong diagonal wind, but when Nicky McKeague took over he nailed his first attempt and with Coby Cunning adding another from play the Cuchullains were 1-3 to 0-0 by the end of the opening quarter.
Rossa were battling hard against tough opponents and a strong wind but they eventually got off the mark on 18 minutes when Tiernan Murphy sent over a free but the six point cushion was restored when Nicky McKeague did likewise at the other end. The home side got their first score from play when centre forward struck and excellent point but Dunloy were making full use of the wind and after McKeague added another point from a placed ball two of their young guns, Ciaran and Seaan Elliott added superb scores from play to stretch the lead to eight.
Rossa pulled one back when corner forward James Connolly fired over at the other end and with half time fast approaching they must have felt they were still in the game, considering the strength of the wind. However they were undone when the fleet footed Seaan Elliott cut in from the left wing and fired low to the corner of the net to give his team a 2-7 to 0-3 half-time lead.
Wind assisted Rossa made a promising start to the second half when Jamesie Connolly and Tiernan Murphy added points and when a long range free by Gerard Walsh went all the way to the net they appeared to be back in business. Suddenly things looked a little different as scores were becoming a bit more difficult for the visitors into playing into the wind. However they responded really well and when Coby Cunning put Keelan Molloy through on goal he fired the ball to the net to put his team back in control.
That goal was a bad blow for the home team’s chances and they never really recovered. Tiernan Murphy did pull a point back but Dunloy responded with two pointed frees from Nicky McKeague and a fourth point from the ever dangerous Conal Cunning to wrap up a twelve point win.
ROSSA: C Walsh; C Orchin, C McGuinness, N Devlin; Stephen Shannon, G Walsh (1-0 free), A O’Brien; M McGreevy, A Orchin; M Armstrong, M Devlin (0-1), J Connolly (0-2); T Murphy (0-3, all frees), C McVeigh, D Rocks. Subs: D McEnhill for M Devlin (HT), N Crossan for N Devlin (46).
DUNLOY: R Elliott; C Kinsella, C McKinley, P Conlon; K McKeague, R McGarry, K Molloy; P Shiels, C Elliott (0-1); N Elliott, N McKeague (0-5, all frees), D Smyth (1-0); S Elliott (1-2), E O’Neill, C Cunning (0-4). Subs: K Molloy (1-0) for N Elliott (42), S Dooey for D Smyth (52), C Brogan for S Elliott (56), A Crawford for E O’Neill (56).
REFEREE: Tarlach Conway
Pics by Bert Trowlen