Bathshack Senior Hurling Championship
Ballycastle 1-16 Dunloy 2-29
Saturday August 6
Brendan McTaggart reports from Pairc Mac Uilin, Ballycastle
Dunloy got the defence of their senior hurling crown off to a winning start on Saturday evening with a resounding victory over Ballycastle. It was a commanding performance from the Cuchullains who had 11 different scorers over the hour and an impressive 2-22 coming from open play.
The home side set up defensively to deal with the attacking movement of Dunloy but they found the task of keeping them quiet too much on the day with all six starting forwards and two midfielders in green and gold getting their name on the list of scorers just after half time.
Ballycastle showed plenty of spirit and despite a slow start they found their way back into the game in the second quarter, thanks largely to Diarmuid McShane’s goal but Dunloy tagged points over at will and second half majors from Anton McGrath and Conal Cunning allowed them to control the game at their own terms.
The Cuchullains opening to both halves proved to be the defining periods of this contest. Nine of their opening 10 points came from open play by the 17th minute while they scored 1-8 in less time after half time. 1-7 of which coming from open play. Dunloy were at times in irresistible form and playing like a side who wanted to avoid a potential banana skin result in Ballycastle.
Ciaran Clarke top scored for The Town with 0-7 beside his name, four of those coming from placed ball while Seamus McAuley and Conor Boyd also showed well for the black and amber. They played direct ball into Tiarnan Butler on the edge of the Dunloy square and looked to live of the breaks but the Dunloy full back line were immense throughout and the majority of scores Ballycastle gained came from further out the field.
With 10 points on board in the opening quarter, Dunloy looked like they were going to run away with the opening half but Ballycastle found their rhythm in the second quarter and their goal giving them a timely boost before half time. Joe McToal collecting the sliotar and driving at the Dunloy defence. He passed square to take Ryan Elliott out of the game and McShane deflected the sliotar into the Dunloy net.
Despite Dunloy’s overall dominance in the first half, their lead was reduced to four points at the short whistle, 0-15 to 1-8.
The Cuchullains regained their free scoring touch at the start of the second half, outscoring Ballycastle 0-8 to 0-4 before Anton McGrath’s goal in the 45th minute. Ronan Molloy and Conal Cunning combining to release McGrath in front of Ryan McGarry’s goal.
Ballycastle had goal chances of their own, Tiernan Butler going close and bringing an excellent reflex save from Dunloy ‘keeper Elliott but any Ballycastle scores were answered in kind at the other end of the pitch, Dunloy dictating the game and Ballycastle running out of time in their search for answers.
Dunloy’s lead stood at 10 points when Cunning bagged Dunloy’s second major. A piece of individual brilliance with the Dunloy man collecting the sliotar in the middle third and showing great pace to get clear of the Ballycastle tackles and sending the sliotar to the back of the net.
The Town continued to look for goals and created an opening for Clarke but Elliott denied him at full stretch in the last minute of the hour.
An impressive opening day win for the Cuchullains who turn their attention to Carey at Loughgiel in two weeks time while Ballycastle entertain Rossa at Dunsilly on the same day.
Ballycastle: Ryan McGarry; Mark McClean, Neal McAuley, Oisin McAuley; James McLister, Conor Boyd, Matthew Donnelly; Ronan Laverty, Seamus McAuley; Joe McToal, Cathal Connor, Diarmuid McShane; Tiernan Smith, Tiarnan Butler, Ciaran Clarke
Subs: Michael Dallet for C Connor (45); Lorcan Donnelly for D McShane (45)
Scorers: C Clarke 0-7 (4 f’s); D McShane 1-1; S McAuley 0-3; J McToal 0-2; T Butler 0-2; T Smith 0-1
Dunloy: Ryan Elliott; Oran Quinn, Ryan McGarry, Phelim Duffin; Aaron Crawford, Kevin Molloy, Eamon Smyth; Nicky McKeague, Deaglan Smith; Eoin McFerran, Gabriel McTaggart, Nigel Elliott; Chrissy McMahon, Conal Cunning, Anton McGrath
Subs: Ronan Molloy for C McMahon (8); Ciaran Elliott for E McFerran (50); Ryan McFarline for N McKeague (57); Paul Shiels for D Smith (57); Oisin Elliott for C Cunning (60)
Scorers: C Cunning 1-9 (6 f’s); A McGrath 1-1; E Smyth 0-3; D Smith 0-3; G McTaggart 0-3; N Elliott 0-3; N McKeague 0-2; E McFerran 0-2; A Crawford 0-1; C McMahon 0-1; P Shiels 0-1 (1f)
Referee: Patrick Tumelty (Lamh Dhearg)