Senior Reserve Shield Final
Dunloy 2-15 Tír na nÓg 4-3
Friday September 4
Brendan McTaggart reports from Dunsilly
Dunloy won their maiden reserve football championship on Friday evening as they saw off Tír na nÓg with six points to spare. It was a convincing performance from the Cuchullains as indiscipline dogged the men from Whitehill. They finished the hour with just 12 men as the red mist descended for Tír na nÓg at Dunsilly – all three red cards coming in the second half.
The Cuchullains looked more likely to win this contest and controlled proceedings for the vast majority of the game but Tír na nÓg’s ability to create carnage at the other end of the pitch that always gave them a punchers chance. In Aodhan Tolan they have a supremely gifted individual with his second half goal a piece of brilliance and one he almost repeated moments later. Unfortunately for the Randalstown Blues, he was one of the three who’s game was ended early.
Eoghan McGrath top scored for the Cuchullains, four of his seven points coming from placed ball in a man of the match performance but he was narrowly pipped by Ciaran McQuillan to that accolade. ‘Squirrel’ was immense at half back with his timing of tackle, positioning for breaking ball and hugely economical in possession. The Cuchullains goals came from Caolan Gillan and Anthony Smith late in the game as Dunloy took advantage of the spaces left given their numerical advantage.
Dunloy made a bright start to the match and had four points on the scoreboard inside the opening seven minutes. Kevin McAllister with the score of the half in those early exchanges – wide on the right but ‘Rev’ split the posts with the outside of his left boot.
Tír na nÓg’s opening goal came in the ninth minute, Ciaran McKeown making a darting run from the left wing and evaded two Dunloy challenges before hammering the ball beyond Conor McGilligan in the Dunloy goals.
The Whitehill men looked to find their range and had tied the sides with five minutes of the half remaining. McGrath’s first point of the match edged Dunloy ahead once again but Tír na nÓg took the lead with their second goal in the 27th minute. A long ball forward from Aodhan Tolan found Sean Donnelly in acres of space. He showed composure to sidestep McGilligan in goals and give his side a two point lead.
The Cuchullains responded with a brace of points from McGrath and the first signs of indiscipline crept into the Tír na nÓg ranks with Barry Magee black carded in injury time.
Like their semi-final win against Glenavy, Dunloy built the foundations for their victory after half time. Four points in eight minutes preceded Caolan Gillan’s 42nd minute goal. McGrath and Gillan sharing the four points before a swift team move that involved four different players freed Gillan who showed a deft touch and composure to finish beyond Sean Paul McAtamney in the Tír na nÓg goals.
The last quarter saw the contest become more fractured. Tír na nÓg felt aggrieved with decision they felt didn’t go their way and lost Brandon McLarnon to a red card before Aodhan Tolan scored the goal of this and any other season. 40 yards out, three Dunloy men on the line yet the he still managed to find the top corner. Some may have looked at it as luck, but just four minutes later he struck again from similar distance only for the ball to be tipped over the bar.
Michael and Aodhan Tolan’s games were both ended early in the closing stages as the Tír na nÓg side became more frustrated. A failed short kick out allowed Anthony Smith to round off an impressive performance with his customary goal in the last minute of the hour to give Dunloy an eight point lead.
Tír na nÓg did manage to breach the Dunloy defence one more time, substitute Eamon McAllister getting a toe to the ball after a goal mouth scramble but Liam McCann finished the scoring with a fine effort from wide on the left to add gloss to the score line for the Cuchullains.
The victory marked a second trophy in the space of five days for many of the same side as they add the Senior Reserve Shield to the Senior Reserve Hurling championship won on the same pitch on Monday.
Dunloy: Conor McGilligan; Cathair McCloskey, Adrian Scullion, Oisin McErlane; Ciaran McQuillan, Padraig McGilligan, Ciaran McIlfatrick; Peter McQuillan, Ryan McFarlane; Anthony Doran, Eoghan McGrath, Liam McCann; Anthony Smith, Caolan Gillan
Scorers: Eoghan McGrath 0-7 (4f); Caolan Gillan 1-3 (2f); Anthony Smith 1-1; Kevin McAllister 0-2 (1f); Liam McCann 0-1; Daithi McGuigan 0-1
Tír na nÓg: Sean Paul McAtamney; Brandon McLarnon, Barry Magee, Ciaran Byrne; Gerard Martin, Niall Cassidy, Oliver McAtamney; Ciaran McKeown, Declan Mallon; Darren O’Kane, Aodhan Tolan, Michael Tolan; David Hastings, Shane Donnelly, Michael Dempsey
Scorers: Aodhan Tolan 1-1; (1-00 f); Ciaran McKeown 1-00; Sean Donnelly 1-00; Eamon Og McAllister 1-00; Darren O’Kane 0-1; Michael Dempsey 0-1
Referee: Ritchie Leahy (St Comgalls)