When last they met…..

North Antrim’s version of the ‘Old Firm’ meet for their first final since 2012 but they’ve locked horns in the past two seasons. 

Bathshack Senior Hurling Championship


Loughgiel 0-14 Dunloy 0-8

Sunday September 30, 2018

Shamrocks dethrone 14 man Cuchullains to reach decider

Brendan McTaggart reports from Paírc MacUílin, Ballycastle

Loughgiel’s Tiernan Coyle reaches for the ball as he is challenged by Dunloy’s James McKeague during Sunday’s Bathashack Antrim Senior Hurling Championship semi-final in Ballycastle where Loughgiel caused a real upset to dump the champions out of the competition with a 0-14 to 0-8 win Pic by Dyllan McIlwaine

It wasn’t the easiest hour of hurling to watch.  Dunloy and Loughgiel went to war on Sunday afternoon in the wind and rain at Páirc MacUílin with the Shamrocks dethroning the reigning county champions with six points to spare.  Many had travelled to the north coast in hopes of a classic encounter between these two old rivals, what we were treated to was a low scoring affair littered with intensity, commitment and desire with the men from Loughgiel tactically out performing the Cuchullains on the day.

The Shamrocks defence held Dunloy scoreless for the last 17 minutes of normal time while restricting the 2017 champions to just two points in the second 30 minutes.  Johnny Campbell’s side put in a hugely committed performance where from one to 15, the Shamrocks showed a savage intensity and desire for their shirt.  Packing their defence and starving the hugely vaunted Dunloy attacking unit of space and time, Loughgiel had their homework done and then some.  Ronan and Tony McCloskey superb while Damon McMullan at centre half was imperious.  While the Shamrocks defence stood resolute at the other end, the work rate of their forwards was unquestionable.  Again, desire and commitment in spades.  Like men possessed with the sole focus of overcoming their neighbours.  Man of the match James McNaughton top scored for the men from Fr Healy Park with 0-8 to his name for his hours work.  Although all eight points came from frees, it was the range of McNaughton’s frees under hugely difficult conditions that gave him the nod for MOTM.  Eight from nine on an afternoon where there was a strong swirling yet biting wind, a low autumnal sun and a biblical downpour in injury time, McNaughton was majestic for the Shamrocks when they needed it most.

For the Cuchullains, they didn’t get their game going.  Much of that is down to the Loughgiel tactics on the day where they just didn’t let the Dunloy men settle into their game.  Paul Shiels top scored for the Cuchullains with five points, two frees, for the hour while just one more forward managed to get their name on the scoresheet, Keelan Molloy’s 43rd minute effort all the Cuchullains attacking unit could squeeze out of a savage Loughgiel defence.

Dunloy would finish the match with 14 men, Nicky McKeague seeing red for dangerous use of the hurl in the sixth minute of injury time but it had no bearing on the final result.  Loughgiel dethroned their rivals and neighbours much to the delight of the large Loughgiel support packed into the Ballycastle grounds.

The semi-final had a bizarre start with the throw in delayed for 20 minutes for what can only be described at ‘Dugout-gate’.  A ‘Mexican standoff’ with officials looking to find common ground and some unsavoury scenes all added to the tension in a packed Paírc MacUílin.  This was a championship match that had been six years in the making and the huge crowd in attendance were growing impatient in anticipation of a championship battle between these great rivals.


Loughgiel: DD Quinn; Paul Gillan, Neil McGarry, Ronan McCloskey; Tony McCloskey, Damon McMullan, Odhran McFadden; Mark McFadden, Tiernan Coyle; Joey Scullion, James McNaughton, Donal McKinley; Daniel McCloskey, Eddie McCloskey, Shan McGrath.

Dunloy:  Ryan Elliott; Phelim Duffin, James McKeague, Aaron Crawford; Ronan Molloy, Conor McKinley, Kevin Molloy; Ciaran Elliott, Nigel Elliott; Nicky McKeague, Keelan Molloy, Paul Shiels; Eoin O’Neill, Chrissy Brogan, Conal Cunning.

Scorers for Loughgiel: James McNaughton 0-8 (4 f’s); Joey Scullion 0-2; Mark McFadden 0-1; Donal McKinley 0-1; Eddie McCloskey 0-1; Shay Casey 0-1

Scorers for Dunloy: Paul Shiels 0-5 (2 f’s); Kevin Molloy 0-1; Nigel Elliott 0-1; Keelan Molloy 0-1

Referee: Darren McKeown (St Galls)

Bathshack.com Senior Hurling Championship


Sunday September 15, 2019

Dunloy 0-20 Loughgiel 0-17

Cuchullains edge rivals to seal final spot

Brendan McTaggart reports from Páirc Mac Uílin, Ballycastle

60 minutes of pure intensity, high octane hurling and drama aplenty.  Dunloy and Loughgiel rarely disappoint on the biggest stage and they delivered yet again on Sunday afternoon.  In the end, the Cuchullains avenged last years defeat to their old rivals at the same stage with three points to spare but they were left thanking the heroics of Ryan Elliott between the sticks and a last gasp piece of outstanding bravery from Paul Shiels to ensure they were celebrating at the final whistle.

Dunloy’s Paul Shiels in action against Loughgiel’s Declan Laverty during the 2019 Antrim Senior Hurling Championship semi-final in Ballycastle. Pic by John McIlwaine

Having built a four point lead at the end of the first half and again in injury time after a second half fightback from the Shamrocks, Dunloy had their backs to the wall in the closing stages as Loughgiel laid siege on their goal.  James McNaughton first denied then the brilliant Liam Watson, twice before ‘Shorty’ threw himself in front of the sliotar to deny Eddie McCloskey in what turned out to be the last action of a pulsating hour of championship hurling.

On the balance of play over the hour, Dunloy did edge Loughgiel with their superior attack giving them the edge.  Conal ‘Coby’ Cunning collecting the man of the match award with his tally of 12 points over the hour while Keelan Molloy and Chrissy Brogan were also prominent.  This game was won in the middle of the pitch however and a sure sign that the Cuchullains had learned from this contest from 12 months ago.  On that day, Loughgiel played with a ferocity and desire that had never been seen before in a Loughgiel shirt and their tactics threw Dunloy on the day.  The Cuchullains stepped up to the challenge on Sunday and met it full on.  Shorty and Ronan Molloy forming a brilliant midfield partnership while Kevin Molloy was always in the right place at the right time.  A handy knack to have when playing in centre half and ‘Bunga’ was there when his side needed him most. 

Dunloy’s Conal Cunning in action against Loughgiel’s Seamus Dobbin during the 2019 Antrim Senior Hurling Championship semi-final in Ballycastle. Pic by John McIlwaine

Loughgiel looked dangerous in attack with Watson and Shan McGrath starting brightly.  When the sliotar was delivered into the Dunloy full back line the Loughgiel duo were causing the Cuchullains huge problems.  Watson in particular with an outstanding display and was the Shamrocks best player over the hour but they didn’t see enough of the ball.  Some may question the delivery into the Loughgiel pair such was the work rate, intensity and ferocity in the rucks from the Cuchullains, Dunloy went about choking the Loughgiel challenge and had enough moments of brilliance to edge this tie.


Loughgiel: Chrissy O’Connell; Seamus Dobbin, Tony McCloskey, Ronan McCloskey; Declan Gillan, Tiernan Coyle, Odhran McFadden; Mark McFadden, Eddie McCloskey; Barney McAuley, Declan Laverty, James McNaughton, Shay Casey, Liam Watson, Shan McGrath

Subs: Ryan McKee for B McAuley (19); Dan McCloskey for M McFadden (35); Donal McKinley for D Laverty (41);

Scorers: Liam Watson 0-10 (8 f’s), Shan McGrath 0-3, James McNaughton 0-3, Declan Gillan 0-1

Dunloy:  Ryan Elliott; Aaron Crawford, Conor McKinley, Phelim Duffin; Eamon Smyth, Kevin Molloy, Ryan McGarry; Paul Shiels, Ronan Molloy; Nigel Elliott, Chrissy Brogan, Keelan Molloy; Nicky McKeague, Conal Cunning, Seaan Elliott.

Subs: Eoin O’Neill for S Elliott (50); Chrissy McMahon for N McKeague (55); Shane Dooey for N Elliott (inj)

Scorers: Conal Cunning 0-12 (8f’s, 1 ’65), Keelan Molloy 0-3, Paul Shiels 0-1 (1f), Ronan Molloy 0-1, Chrissy Brogan 0-1, Nicky McKeague 0-1, Chrissy McMahon 0-1

Referee: Mark O’Neill (Armoy)

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