ACHL Division One
McQuillan’s, Ballycastle 2-15 Cuchullains, Dunloy 1-22
Wednesday June 12
Brendan McTaggart reports from Páirc Mac Uilín
Dunloy held off a spirited performance from Ballycastle to maintain their unbeaten league campaign. Four points separated the sides after an entertaining hour of hurling in difficult conditions and despite first half goals from Saul McCaughan and Eamon Elliott, the Cuchullains were deserving of their winning margin.
Still missing their county contingent, Dunloy had a spread of nine different scorers with Conal Cunning top of the charts with 0-10 for his hours work, just four of his tally coming from placed ball. Their major came from the hurl of the once again, impressive Paul Shiels. Shorty bagging a second half penalty to put daylight between the sides while finishing the match with 1-3.
After a bright start and a strong first half where they trailed by just a point, the home side would have been confident going into the second half with the wind picking up and in their favour. Ciaran Clarke, Saul McCaughan and Dairmuid McShane were asking plenty of questions of the Dunloy defence but the Cuchullains went up a level in the second 30 minutes and as the wind picked up and the rain began to lash, Coby Cunning and Paul Shiels shone and orchestrated their seventh win of the campaign.
Referee Tarlach Conway had barely got proceedings under way before awarding a free for the visitors. Coby Cunning splitting the uprights from close to half way and when Ronan Molloy followed suit soon after, Dunloy had settled well into the game. Ballycastle were testing the Dunloy full back line with long ball landing on top of their forwards and Clarke had gone close to scoring the opening goal after four minutes but it served as a mere warning for the Cuchullains as Saul McCaughan managed to breach Ger Dixon’s goal line in the sixth minute. Collecting a long ball from Tiernan Butler, McCaughan got the half yard needed before firing to the back of the net. Diarmuid McShane’s first of five points followed as both sides looked to hit the ground running in the opening exchanges despite the break in league games.
Dunloy recovered well from McCaughan’s early major and after 20 minutes the minimum separated the sides with Eamon Smyth, Liam McCann, Shiels and Cunning (two) finding their range with Clarke (three), Dairmuid and Kevin Barry McShane responding for the home side.
Ballycastle scored their second goal of the match though to take a four point lead and it came under similar circumstances. Tiernan Butler with the delivery but this time Eamonn Elliott was the predator in front of goal, giving Dixon no chance between the sticks.
Elliott’s goal was the last score Ballycastle would manage in the first half though as Dunloy began to make better use of the sliotar. Ronan Molloy and Seaan Elliott split the uprights in quick succession before Cunning took his first half tally to 0-7 with a brace of frees and one from play to leave the Cuchullains ahead by the minimum at the break.
Half Time: Ballycastle 2-6 Dunloy 0-13
Ballycastle edged the first half and would have been content to trail by just a point at the short whistle. Dunloy weren’t at their fluent best in the opening 30 minutes but they made a fast start to the second half and build momentum. Deáglán Smyth, Cunning (free) and Ronan Molloy’s third of the match stretching their lead to four points before Lorcan Donnelly opened Ballycastle’s account for the second half. Cunning and Dairmuid McShane exchanged scores as the rain began to worsen conditions and while Shiels and Kevin Molloy landed scores either side of a Clarke ’65, the Cuchullains were making light of the conditions and held a four point lead midway through the second half.
That four points became seven when Tarlach Conway awarded the visitors a penalty. Ronan Molloy felled inside the parallelogram and Shiels dispatching the sliotar with a drilled effort to give Ryan McGarry little or no chance of saving his effort.
Kevin Barry McShane and Cunning swapped scores before a run of four unanswered points from Clarke (free), and the McShane brothers Kevin Barry and Dairmuid (two) brought the home side to within touching distance going into injury time but the Cuchullains finished well and kept Ballycastle at bay. Points from Shiels and substitute Anton McGrath were answered to by Lorcan Donnelly’s second of the hour before Tarlach Conway called time.
The Cuchullains will be pleased with their second half performance in difficult conditions. They produced when they had to and welcome Portaferry to Pearse Park next Wednesday night and while Ballycastle tasted defeat, their hunger, desire and attitude couldn’t be faulted. They pushed Dunloy for the full 70 minutes and will be hoping for a better return for their efforts when they travel to Rossa Park in their next league encounter.
Dunloy: Ger Dixon; Conor Kinsella, Conor McKinley, Aaron Crawford; Eamon Smyth, Ryan McGarry, Kevin Molloy; Paul Shiels, Liam McCann; Gabriel McTaggart, Ronan Molloy, Chrissy McMahon; Seaan Elliott, Deáglán Smyth, Conal Cunning.
Scorers: Conal Cunning 0-10 (4 f’s); Paul Shiels 1-3 (1-00 pen); Ronan Molloy 0-3; Eamon Smyth 0-1; Liam McCann 0-1; Seaan Elliott 0-1; Deáglán Smyth 0-1; Kevin Molloy 0-1; Anton McGrath 0-1
Ballycastle: Ryan McGarry; Sean Kelly, Matthew Donnelly, Colum Butler; James McLister, Tiernan Butler, Conor Boyd; Kevin-Barry McShane, Ronan McCarry; Dairmuid McShane, Ciaran Clarke, Shane McCarry; Lorcan Donnelly, Saul McCaughan, Eamon Elliott.
Scorers: Ciaran Clarke 0-5 (4 f’s, 1 ’65); Dairmuid McShane 0-5; Kevin-Barry McShane 0-3; Saul McCaughan 1-00; Eamon Elliott 1-00; Lorcan Donnelly 0-2
Referee: Turlach Conway (Ballinascreen)