OB Construction Intermediate Football Championship – Quarter-Final
Dunloy 1-12 Aldergrove 2-7
Sunday September 11
Brendan McTaggart reports from Aldergrove
With this quarter-final stretching into injury time, it looked like Aldergrove had performed the great escape. Dunloy had stretched into a five point lead and looked to have more than one foot in the semi-final when the home side scored two majors from out of this world that saw them take the lead for the first time in the game.
The Cuchullains remained composed in the time that remained and had enough quality to edge home. An equaliser through a questionable free and scores from substitute Anthony Smith and Nigel Elliott booked Dunloy’s place in the last four.
The Cuchullains controlled this game for long periods and had the St James side held on after Gerard Mallon’s worldy, it would have been as big a ‘smash and grab’ win as you will see this or any year. Both goals were incredible finishes and worthy of winning any game of football – Seamus McGarry with the first to give his side a glimmer of hope.
Seamus McGarry was always a threat for Aldergrove and top scored with 1-2 for his side. Oisin Graham played sweeper to try and control the inside forwards of the Cuchullains while Conor Browning and Andrew Flood also shone for the home side.
Keelan Molloy top scored for the Cuchullains with 1-5, his goal coming mid-way through the second half and looked to be the deciding score of the game. Nigel Elliott and Conal Cunning were always a threat while defensively, Aaron Crawford and James Scally excelled. On a day where conditions certainly weren’t conducive for free flowing football, the Cuchullains defence were immense. Not conceding a free within scoring range throughout the hour but their win was built around the midfield dominance of Ryan McGarry and man of the match Deaglan Smith. The pairing made little of the inclement weather conditions and less than favourable ground conditions to push Dunloy to victory.
Playing against the wind and up the hill in the first half, Dunloy started superbly and had the first three points on the board before McGarry opened Aldergrove’s account in the eighth minute. Keelan Molloy, Eoin Gillan and Nigel Elliott with the scores for the Cuchullains.
Declan Gough scored his first of two points to halve the deficit before Molloy fired over his first of three frees in the 18th minute.
The home side began to find their passing game as the game progressed however and came to terms with the Dunloy attacking movement. The Cuchullains chances were restricted as Aldergrove began to take control. Conor Morris and Conal Cunning (free) swapped scores before the home side created a goal scoring chance. Ronan Hanna with an outstanding pass to find McGarry. Wide on the left, he dissected the Dunloy defence with an inch perfect pass but McGarry’s touch, for once, let him down with the Dunloy goal at his mercy. He did manage to score the last point of the half to leave two points between the sides at the short whistle. Dunloy 0-6 Aldergrove 0-4.
The second half began with much of the same football. Largely played on Aldergrove’s terms and Dunloy trying to impose their attack again. The home side restricted the Cuchullains to just one point in the opening quarter after the break, Molloy with the point while they fired over scores from Ronan Hanna (mark), Fearghal Hanna and Declan Gough to leave the sides tied going into the final 15 minutes.
That would be Aldergrove’s last score until the 58th minute however as Dunloy began to fire once again. Molloy’s second and third frees of the hour came either side of the Cuchullains goal. Nigel Elliott intercepting a stray Aldergrove pass and spraying a pass to Molloy on the edge of the square. Molloy remained composed and fired to the back of the net with his scores giving the Cuchullains a five point lead with less than ten minutes remaining.
Dunloy looked to be seeing out the time that remained but Aldergrove rolled the dice one last time. A high ball fell loose in the Dunloy defence and McGarry gathered before thumping the ball high and to the back of the Dunloy net, giving ‘keeper Chrissy Brogan no chance.
The Aldergrove faithful were still celebrating when they carved out another chance. Gerard Mallon with half a glimpse of goal and his finish was emphatic. A thunderous strike into the top corner that gave the home side the lead for the first time in the game as the game ticked into injury time. Aldergrove were reduced to 14 men when Fearghal Hanna was sent off for a second bookable offence and Dunloy regrouped. They were rewarded a dubious free to equalise with the next attack, Conal Cunning converting the free and the Cuchullains pushed for home in the closing stages. A superb ball over the top found substitute Anthony Smith in space and he showed composure to split the uprights while Nigel Elliott had the final say with his second white flag of the hour with what was the last action of a dramatic second half. Cuchullains proceed to the last four.
Dunloy: Chrissy Brogan; Conor Kinsella, Aaron Crawford, Oran Quinn; Eoin McFerran, Kevin McQuillan, James Scally; Deaglan Smith, Ryan McGarry; Nigel Elliott, Eoin Gillan, Chrissy McMahon, Conal Cunning, Keelan Molloy, Seaan Elliott
Scorers: K Molloy 1-5 (3fs); N Elliott 0-2; E Gillan 0-2; C Cunning 0-2 (2fs); Anthony Smith 0-1
Aldergrove: Shane O’Neill; Eoin Gough, Christopher McVeigh, David Aiken; Gerard Mallon, Andrew Flood, Declan Gough; Ryan Owens, Fearghal Hanna; Seamus McGarry, Ronan Hanna, Conor Browning; Conro Morris, James Trowlen, Oisin Graham
Scorers: S McGarry 1-2; G Mallon 1-00; D Gough 0-2; F Hanna 0-1; C Morris 0-1; R Hanna 0-1 (1 mark)
Referee: Danny O’Neill (Gort na Mona)