May 1990 and Dunloy Cuchullains were on the rise. They had swept the boards in Centenary year 1984 winning every underage title from U14 to Minor and many of that Feile winning team of 84 were in the Under 21 ranks when they faced their greatest rivals in the final at Waterfoot. With Alastair ‘Napper’ Elliott on fire (5-05) they put the Shamrocks to the sword with a 31 point win. Grim reading for Loughgiel fans, but of course they bounced back and got revenge later in the decade, beating Dunloy in the 96 and 97 finals.
However that day in Glenariffe Dunloy showed what they were capable of and later that year they made the big breakthrough at Senior level.
Cuchullian’s Canter To Title
1990 Antrim Under 21 Hurling Championship final
Dunloy 8-15 Loughgiel 1-05
Under 21 specialists Dunloy collected their fifth county title in seven years when they beat old rivals Loughgiel by an incredible thirty-one-point margin at Glenariffe.
When Loughgiel beat Cushendall in their semi final replay many people, including myself, felt that we were in for an exciting final. However, that turned out to be a major disappointment as the Cuchullian’s totally outclassed the Shamrocks with a powerful performance.
ELLIOTT ON SONG
Leading the Dunloy charge was full forward Alister Elliott who ended up the game with a total of five goals and six point. From the moment that Elliott soloed through to crash home a goal in the fourteenth minute, Dunloy never looked back.
Strangely enough things had been even up to that point. The sides had been level and in fact Loughgiel’s prospects had looked quite bright when Niall Gillan pointed them ahead in the twelfth minute.
Gregory O’Kane levelled the scores with a thirteenth minute point before Elliott struck with the first of his five goals one minute late. Points followed from Elliott, McKee and McGilligan before the full forward took advantage of a defensive blunder to know in goal number two.
A Brian Gillan free temporarily stopped the rot but Dunloy came back with two more Elliott points and one from Gregory O’Kane to stretch twelve clear.
A good piece of opportunism by Loughgiel captain Seamus Dobbin which brought a goal from a quickly taken free gave the Shamrocks some hope but these hopes were soon dashed as Elliott netted goal number three from a penalty after he had been upended in the square.
Half time Dunloy 2-10 Loughgiel 1-04
Niall Gillan scored a good point for Loughgiel in the opening minute of the new half but incredibly it was to be their last score as Dunloy ruled every sector of the field.
The remaining twenty-nine minutes were merely a procession of Dunloy scores with Elliott hitting the net twice more to take his total to five and Gregory O’Kane, Declan Heggarty and Mark Gillan all raising the green flag.
In a great all round Dunloy team display Adrian Robb, Gary O’Kane and Damian McKee starred in defence. Michael Maguire and Sean Mullan were never troubled at midfield while up front Alister Elliott and Eamon McKee were a constant torment to the Loughgiel defence.
It may sound strange when looking at the scoreboard but Loughgiel keeper Paul Carey was one of his team’s best players. Admittedly he did make a couple of slips in the second half, but he made some great stops throughout the hour.
Few others will care to remember this game though Seamus Dobbin and Brian Gillan give their all.
S Elliott, A McIlhatton, A Robb, D McKee, P Molloy, G O’Kane (0-03), G Cunning, M Maguire, S Mullan, A McGilligan (0-01), D Heggarty (1-00), E McKee (0-03), M McGowan, A Elliott (5-05), G O’Kane (1-02) Subs – M Gillan (1-01), G Dillon and N McMullan
P Carey, P McMullan, G McCollum, S Connelly, P Dillon, E McCloskey, K Carey, P McGarry, E McGarry, N Gillan (0-02), P McGarry, S Dobbin (1-00), S McIlhatton, B Gillian (0-02), N O’Hagan sub – F McIntyre