Cuchullains storm to decider

Bathshack Senior Hurling Championship Semi Final

Dunloy 5-21 St John’s 1-12

Sunday 2 October

Brendan McTaggart reports from Dunsilly

While many within the county had predicted a Dunloy victory in this semi final, not many would have prophesised this outcome.  Dunloy stormed to the final of this years senior hurling championship with what was quite simply a breathtaking display against St John’s.  

Yet for the first ten minutes of this tie, the Johnnies looked really good.  Using the sliotar intelligently with crisp and precise passing, pulling the Dunloy defence and creating space.  But once the reigning champions clicked into gear, they produced a simply dazzling brand of hurling that left the Corrigan Park men chasing shadows.  The Johnnies weren’t helped with a series of unforced errors and any discrepancies were punished by the men in green and gold as Dunloy went through the gears with relentless ease and played with a frightening pace.

A pace that was sustained for 20 plus minutes of the second half as Dunloy all but sealed their place in the final by half time.  Three goals in the opening 30 minutes, 2-6 in a 10 minute period that saw St John’s register one attempt at the Dunloy goal and 2-5 of that tally all coming from play.

The only break in the Dunloy momentum in that period was a red card for Miceal Dudley.  Referee Mark O’Neill cutting short the St John’s midfielders game for an off the ball incident involving Paul Shiels and effectively hammering the nail into the Johnnies championship coffin.

The second half was more about damage limitation for St Johns.  Dunloy looked like they could cut loose at any moment.  The Cuchullains movement, passing and vision was only matched by their athleticism and fitness.  A willingness to run endlessly, cutting St John’s open and creating chances at will. 

The opening goal came when St John’s held a one point in the ninth minute.  It was the minimum the Johnnies had deserved such was their play in the opening exchanges but a series of wide’s meant they couldn’t put any score board pressure on the Cuchullains.  A break from Nigel Elliott sent Conal Cunning free and Coby finished to the back of the net.

Oisin McManus hit his third free of the match in response but Dunloy began to go through the gears.  By the time their second goal came in the 22nd minute they held a five point lead.  Nigel Elliott capitalising on a poor puck out from Simon Doherty to find the net.  The third goal came four minutes later and was simply brilliant.  Forcing a turnover in midfield, Coby Cunning found Ronan Molloy.  Another one-two between the pair saw Cunning through on goal and he added his second major to give Dunloy a 12 point lead.

The red mist descended on Dudley and for the second year in succession, the Johnnies were down to 14 men against the Cuchullains in the semi final.

Leading 3-11 to 0-5 at half time, Dunloy never lifted their foot off the throat of the Johnnies championship hopes.  Their fourth goal came just three minutes into the second half, Keelan Molloy taking his tally to 1-3 for the game after Ryan McGarry and Cunning combined to set him free.

St John’s responded with a major of their own in the 36th minute.  Padraig Nugent firing low from a 21 yard free with the sliotar deflecting to the back of the net.  Dunloy were spraying the sliotar to all corners of Pitch One at Dunsilly and the game descended into all the intensity of a challenge game.  St John’s suffocated the space in their defence and restricted the Cuchullains to striking from distance, which they duly took on a number of occasions.

Dunloy’s lead had stretched to 17 points when they scored their final major of the evening.  With 56 minutes on the clock, Ronan Molloy surging down the right hand side and sending a rasping drive from an acute angle to add further gloss to a health scoreline for the Cuchullains.

On this kind of form, it will take a special performance to stop the Cuchullains from keeping the Volunteer Cup in Pearse Park for a fourth year in a row.  An intriguing match lays ahead in two weeks time.  

TEAMS

Dunloy: Ryan Elliott; Phelim Duffin, Ryan McGarry, Oran Quinn; Aaron Crawford, Kevin Molloy, Eamon Smyth; Paul Shiels, Deaglan Smith; Nigel Elliott, Gabriel McTaggart, Ronan Molloy; Seaan Elliott, Conal Cunning, Keelan Molloy

Subs: Anton McGrath for D Smith (30); Nicky McKeague for K Molloy (45); Kevin McKeague for R McGarry (45); Eoin McFerran for N Elliott (51); Chrissy McMahon for C Cunning (51)

Scorers: C Cunning 2-7 (4fs); Keelan Molloy 1-3; N Elliott 1-1; P Shiels 0-3 (1f); R Molloy 1-00; C McMahon 0-2; S Elliott 0-1; R McGarry 0-1; D Smith 0-1; A McGrath 0-1; N McKeague 0-1

St John’s: Simon Doherty; Odhran Carleton, Ryan McNulty, Conal Morgan; Peter McCallin, Padraig Nugent, Michael Bradley; Andy McGowan, Miceal Dudley; Shea Shannon, Ciaran Johnston, Conor Johnston; Ruairi Galbraith, Aaron Bradley, Oisin McManus

Subs: Oisin Donnelly for A McGowan (26); Jack Bohill for R McNulty (40); Stephen Tierney for P Nugent (49)

Scorers: O McManus 0-5 (5f); P Nugent 1-00 (free); R Galbraith 0-2; Ciaran Johnston 0-2; S Shannon 0-1; A Bradley 0-1; O Donnelly 0-1

Referee: Mark O’Neill (Armoy)

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