Bathshack Senior Hurling Championship Final
Dunloy 3-23 Rossa 1-14
Sunday October 10
Brendan McTaggart reports from Corrigan Park, Dunloy
Dunloy produced their best performance of the year on Sunday afternoon to sweep aside the challenge of Rossa and retain the Volunteer Cup and draw level with the Belfast men in the role of honour on 15 titles each. Ironically 15 points separated the sides in what was widely anticipated to be a close contest, but the Cuchullains clicked into gear early and rarely gave the city men an opportunity to build any momentum.
Three first half goals from Conal Cunning, Seaan Elliott and Chrissy McMahon put daylight between the sides as Rossa misfired. They needed everything to be perfect to have the fairy-tale ending but in truth they were taught a harsh lesson from a slick Dunloy machine.
Rossa looked to semi-final hero Michael Armstrong for inspiration as he and Stephen Beatty tried to make inwards in a brilliant Dunloy defence. Their ability to win primary possession was never in question but how Dunloy dealt with that danger with mechanic like precision. A defensive unit moving with speed, tenacity and hunger, Dunloy had brought their ‘A’ game when they needed it most.
The midfield was always going to be key. Rossa pin pointed this area to try and stifle the delivery of ball into the Dunloy forwards but Kevin Molloy and Paul Shiels showed it’s not just about the young lads in the Cuchullains set up. ‘Shorty’ and ‘Bunga’ were immense as they dominated the middle of the pitch. Kevin Molloy with five points and my shout for man of the match but it could have easily gone to Shorty while Conal Cunning got the nod from the TG4 men at Corrigan. 1-11 with 1-3 from play, you would think he was a certainty for that accolade but such was the performance of his team mates, it was a tough call.
Stephen Beatty battled incredibly for the Rossa, fully deserving his second half major while Deaglan Murphy ran himself into the ground for the Rossa cause. Chris McGuinness another who lead by example with three points from play but they couldn’t match the intensity or skill the Cuchuallins brought to the table.
Both sides made changes from their semi-finals with Kevin Molloy and Kevin McKeague coming into the 15 for Dunloy, replacing Nicky McKeague and Phelim Duffin while Thomas Morgan replaced Dominic McEnhill for Rossa.
The score was tied on one point apiece when Dunloy scored the opening goal. Shiels and Cunning combining to assist Seaan Elliott who provided the calm finish. Rossa’s challenge was hurt with a run of five wides in the opening 10 minutes while the Cuchullains were more measured and economical with their approach. With just two points between the sides at the first half water-break, Dunloy took control in the second quarter with two goals in five minutes. Chrissy McMahon and Elliott cutting through the Rossa defence before laying the sliotar into the path of Coby and he beat the rushing Donal Armstrong. The third Dunloy goal came with Cunning involved again, collecting a long delivery from Kevin Molloy and while Donal Armstrong did enough to stop him from grabbing a second major, McMahon was there to apply the finish and give Dunloy an eight point lead.
The Cuchullains were going through the gears and were unlucky not to have a fourth goal moments later. Seaan Elliott was through on goal and looked to have been fouled but with the sliotar going lose, McMahon swept home only for referee Mark O’Neill to call the play back for an earlier infringement.
10 points separated the sides at the short whistle and Dunloy had one hand on the Volunteer Cup. Rossa brought on Dara Rocks and Eoin Trainor to try and revive their feint hopes of a first senior championship success since 2004 but six points in nine minutes from Dunloy with three from Rossa put further daylight between the sides.
By the time the game reached the second half water-break, Dunloy were 14 points clear and relentless. They were putting on a show for the large crowd at Corrigan and continued to purr.
Stephen Beatty’s major came in the 51st minute but the Cuchullains had already looked to their bench to give their subs a chance to taste the closing stages of final win.
Kevin Molloy fittingly scored the final point of the contest from the most ridiculous of angles to add further gloss to the score line.
Dunloy make it three in a row, four in five years and 15 in total. The Volunteer Cup stays in Pearse Park for 2021.
Dunloy: Ryan Elliott; Aaron Crawford, Conor McKinley, Conor Kinsella; Ronan Molloy, Kevin McKeague, Ryan McGarry; Paul Shiels, Keelan Molloy; Eoin McFerran, Kevin Molloy, Eoin O’Neill; Chrissy McMahon, Conal Cunning, Seaan Elliott
Sub: Nicky McKeague for E McFerran (39); Deaglan Smith for C McMahon (52); Eamon Smyth for K McKeague (56); Gabriel McTaggart for E O’Neill (60); Oran Quinn for A Crawford (inj)
Scorers: C Cunning 1-11 (8f); Kevin Molloy 0-5; S Elliott 1-2; C McMahon 1-1; P Shiels 0-2; Keelan Molloy 0-1; E O’Neill 0-1
Rossa: Donal Armstrong; Ciaran Orchin, Adrian Kinneally, Aidan Orchin; Stephen Shannon, Michael Armstrong, Chris McGuinness; Gerald Walsh, Deaglan Murphy; Daire Murphy, Seaghan Shannon, Aodhan O’Brien; Tiarnan Murphy, Stephen Beatty, Thomas Morgan
Subs: Conal Shannon for A Orchin (7); Eoin Trainor for Seaghan Shannon (HT); Dara Rocks for T Murphy (HT); Niall Crossan for C Orchin (51); Cormac McGettigan for Daire Murphy (53)
Scorers: S Beatty 1-4; T Morgan 0-3; C McGuinness 0-3; Deaglan Murphy 0-2 (2f); Stephen Shannon 0-1; G Walsh 0-1 (1f)
Referee: Mark O’Neill (Armoy)