Dunloy beat Ballycastle in semi-final to take another step towards their first title

Today we continute the coverage of Dunloy’s progress towards their first county hurling title in 1990. To mark the 30th anniversary of their breakthrough win we have been covering their opening round win over Cushendall, and quarter final victory over St John’s which set up a semi-final meeting again Ballycastle, once again in Loughgiel. In what turned out to be a controversial clash, who players of each side getting sent off, Dunloy made it through to their first final since 1976

Antrim Senior Hurling Championship semi-final 1990

Dunloy Reach First Final Since 1976

Dunloy 1-11 Ballycastle 1-08

Dunloy qualified for their first county final since 1976 when they beat Ballycastle by three points in a controversial semi final at Father Healy Park, Loughgiel.

Much of the controversy centred around two of the three penalties which the referee awarded during the game; each of which were followed by a sending off. Players and officials from both teams protested vigorously after the game that mistakes had been made in both cases.

In the first incident Ballycastle were adamant that they were wronged as the referee gave a penalty when he adjudged that keeper Paul Smith had lifted the ball off the ground in the small square in the 23rd minute.

After Dunloy’s Seamus McMullan fired home the goal from the resultant penalty, Ballycastle’s full back Terence Donnelly was sent off in an off the ball incident.

In the second incident seven minutes from time both teams protested that they had been mistreated, Ballycastle players claimed the ball had definitely crossed the line moments before the penalty was awarded when Dessie Donnelly was upended in the square.

Dunloy officials were angry when the referee consulted with an umpire, sent off their inter-county defender Gary O’Kane to the line. Dunloy felt that O’Kane had been wronged and the wrong man had been sent off.

These incidents, the penalties plus and endless procession of stoppages when the ball was lost after scores or wides at the end road of the ground all contributed to a disappointing and disjointed. Game.

Dunloy’s supporters will not be disappointed that the game was not of the highest quality and why they would they as they saw their team take another step to the ‘promised land’ of a county hurling title.

Whether they can reach that land is another matter we will discuss another day but there is no denying that they had talent in abundance, which if handled correctly, will surely bring them glory in the near future.

Paul McKillen had the game’s first score in the second minute when he pointed Ballycastle ahead with a ’65 but Dunloy replied with three on the trot from Seamus McMullan and the Elliot brothers Alistair and Jarlath, before Dessie Donnelly slotted over a free to leave just one between the teams.

Tony McGrath and Jarlath Elliott pointed to put Dunloy three ahead but one minute later Ballycastle were level after the first of three penalties. Dessie Donnelly was grounded in the square and though his penalty was not well struck it beat the Dunloy defensive line to level the scores.

The second penalty five minutes later was the one which had the most bearing on the outcome of the game.

Mushy McMullan’s goal put Dunloy three ahead again and when Terence Donnelly got his marching orders, Ballycastle really faced an uphill struggle. They had to move full forward Dessie Donnelly into full back and with the switch the scoring threat was gone.

Paul McKillen did pull back a point before half time to leave his side two adrift at the short whistle 1-05 to 1-03.

Seamus McMullan increased Dunloy’s lead to three when he pointed a free five minutes after the restart but Ballycastle pulled back to a point when Brian Donnelly knocked over a free and Ronan Donnelly hit one from play.

Dunloy then eased away again with three points on the trot from Jarlath Elliott (2) and Seamus McMullan and though Cathal Donnelly and Paul McKillen pulled back two points Tony and Jarlath McGrath replied to leave four in it with ten minutes remaining.

In an effort to bolster a totally inept forward line Ballycastle took Dessie Donnelly back up front and within a minute he pointed a free to leave a goal between them. When the penalty was awarded a minute later Donnelly completely miss hit the shot and it was easily saved.

In the final five minutes, with both sides down to fourteen players, Ballycastle pressed forward looking for the equaliser but goalkeeper Shane Elliott was equal to it all. Sean McIlhatton and Seamus McMullan defended resolutely and Dunloy held on to earn a place in the final against Rossa in the final on the 23rd of September.

Apart from those three defenders mentioned Gary O’Kane and Sean Mullan played well. Tony McGrath was the best of midfield while Gregory O’Kane, Alister and Jarlath Elliott were best up front.

Paul Smith played well in the Ballycastle goals while in defence Martin McIlroy, Frank Devlin and Kevin McShane were best.

Stephen Boyle at midfield work tirelessly and was Ballycastle’s best player while in the forwards line only Dessie Donnelly posed any real threat.

Dunloy team

S Elliott, S McIlhatton, D McMullan, B Og Cunning, S McMullan (1-03), G O’Kane, S Mullan, T McGrath (0-02), N Elliott, M Maguire, S Boyle, A Elliott (0-01), J McGrath (0-01), J Elliott (0-04), G O’Kane subs – A Mc Gilligan for M Maguire

Ballycastle team

P Smith, F Devlin, T Donnelly, K McShane, E Donnelly, L Gallagher, M McIlroy, P McKillen (0-03), S Boyle, R Donnelly (0-01), B Donnelly (0-01), D McAfee, M McShane, D Donnelly (1-02), O Laverty subs – C Connelly (0-01) for McAfee

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