Twenty five years ago this month Antrim and Ulster champions Dunloy travelled to Ruisilip in London to take on British Champions St Gabriels in the All Ireland Quarter Final. The Cuchullains struggled to shake off the challenge of the Exiles for long periods, but the introduction of young substitutes Malachy Molloy and Liam Richmond gave them the lift they needed and they went on to win with a bit to spare.
St Gabriel’s (London) 0-09 Dunloy 1-16
John McIlwaine reports from Ruislip (Thanks to Dunloy PRO Paul McLean for his assistance)
Dunloy’s young duo of Malachy Molloy and Liam Richmond saved the day on Sunday at Ruislip, London, when they came on as second half substitutes to steer their team to victory over St Gabriel’s.
For forty-five minutes of this All Ireland quarter final against the London champions the Cuchullian’s had struggled. Though never headed, the Antrim and Ulster champions were finding it difficult to break free of the shackles of the rugged exiles outfit, but the introduction of Molloy and Richmond provided the spark they needed.
Molloy struck a fine point soon after coming on and when Richmond followed it up with a fine opportunist goal soon afterwards the pressure was off. From here on in last years All Ireland finalists showed some of the hurling of which they are capable as they booked a semi-final against Leinster champions Glenmore on February the 11th.
When Molloy was introduced, Dunloy were just two points ahead, but soon after taking the field the tall teenager rose high to field a long free from Gary O’Kane before turning and striking a splendid point.
Richmond was brought on a minute later, and he was also quick to impress with a well taken goal which put Dunloy firmly in the driving seat for the first time. Up until that late surge Dunloy had found the going tough and again they had reason to be thankful to full forward Gregory O’Kane who steered the ship though some choppy waters.
“Dick” supplied four of his teams five first half points to give them a slender 0-5 to 0-3 half time lead, and it was his cool headed accuracy which kept their noses in front when St Gabriel’s threatened to take over.
Dunloy (who had flew over to London on Sunday morning) had the better of the exchanges, but they failed to master the sticky underfoot conditions, too often trying to play their normal short passing game, when a more direct approach would have been more beneficial.
After a sustained early spell of pressure had only produced a single Jarlath Elliott point the home team broke away and were unlucky not to grab a goal when a ‘rasper’ from Mick Lyons rattled the Dunloy cross bar.
Corner forward Billy Dolan did retrieve the situation somewhat when he pointed the rebound to level matters but with O’Kane starting to find his feet at the other end Dunloy pulled three ahead when he hit the target on the tenth, twelfth and fifteenth minutes.
With the Dunloy midfield and three quarter line struggling to gain an advantage St Gabriel’s came right back into the game with two frees from Lyons who brought his team back to within a point, though O’Kane increased the gap to two just before half time.
On the resumption Dunloy showed promising early signs when Gary O’Kane pointed a long range free to increase that lead to three.
However, that early promise faded and two more points from Lyons and one from Donal Murphy in reply to just one from Gregory O’Kane left the Londoners trailing by just a single by the thirty eighth minute.
Two further points from O’Kane and one from Alastair Elliott seemed to be lifting Dunloy clear of danger but the tenacious exiles battled back again, and two more Lyons points brought them to within two once again.
Molloy had just been on the field three minutes when he made his mark with a fine solo point and when O’Kane his eighth soon afterwards there were signs that the Antrim men were starting to gain the upper hand.
Richmond’s goal ended any lingering doubts, and with the pressure off they produced some good hurling in the closing stages, Frankie McMullan and Jarlath Elliott pointed inside thirty seconds before Molloy and Richmond finished off fine individual displays with points apiece to safely secure a repeat of the 1991 All Ireland semi final against Glenmore.
In defence Sean Mullan, Seamus McMullan and Gary O’Kane were best. Midfield were never dominant, though Colum McGuckian worked very hard, while the stars up front were O’Kane, Molloy and Richmond.
Shane Elliott, Niall McCamphill, Paul Molloy, Sean McIlhatton, Seamus McMullan, Gary O’Kane (0-01),, Sean Mullan, Nigel Elliott, Colum McGuckian, Jarlath Elliott (0-02),Tony McGrath, Frankie McMullan (0-01) , Eamon McKee, Gregory O’Kane (0-08), Alister Elliott (0-01). Subs – Liam Richmond (1-01), Malachy Molloy (0-02), Seamus Boyle
M Finnerty, G Hannify, T Lohan, M Murtagh, A O’Keefe, JJ Sheil, J Shaughnessey, W Lohan, R Quinlan, S Ivors, D Murphy, M Cuddy, R Cashin, B Hayes, M Lyons.