Novel pairing could be hard to separate in Intermediate decider

OB Construction IFC Final

Dunsilly (Saturday) 3-00pm

Con Magge’s Glenravel v Cuchullain’s Dunloy

This Saturday’s OB Construction IFC final at Dunsilly throws together a novel pairing when South West neighbours, Con Magee’s Glenravel and Cuchullain’s Dunloy meet in what should be an excellent final.

The Cuchullain’s will probably start this one as slight favourites by virtue of the fact that they have been knocking at the championship door for a number of years. Last year they were beaten in the semi-final by All Saints and the previous year they defeated the same opposition at the semi-final stage before going on to lose to Moneyglass in the final at Saturday’s venue.

They will have to be at their best however to beat a Con Magee’s side who have been flying this year under the guidance of manager, Joe Cassidy and the ex Derry star has brought a new belief and intensity to the men from the 10th Glen.

Con Magee’s were drawn in Group 3 of the qualifiers with Davitt’s and Rasharkin and began their campaign with a 0-17 to 1-11 win away to St. Mary’s at Dreen and followed that up with a home win over Davitt’s at Fr. Maginn Park to top their group and so earn a home draw against All Saints in the quarter-final.

On a day, not conducive to good football Glenravel showed tremendous character and fighting spirit. Trailing by five points in the first ten minutes, the signs were looking ominous for the Con Magee’s. Ballymena had established a stranglehold on the game and their fluid movement in transitions and constant pressure had the hosts camped in their half. However, Eamon Fyfe spearheaded a Glenravel resurgence and his rasping point from range on the twenty fifth minute was the perfect exclamation mark for their revival. It would be a lead that they would refuse to relinquish for the remainder of the game.

They went on to win that one 0-14 to 0-12, holding the visitors scoreless for 25 minutes at one stage and this win seemed to have given them the confidence and belief as they went into the semi-final against a Sarsfields side who had been posting good results themselves.

Glenravel put in a polished performance which saw them over the line with a comfortable nine points to spare over Sarsfields in the semi-final at Saturday’s venue. The blend of youth and experience within their ranks proved to be too much for a Sarsfields side who struggled to replicate the scintillating form from their previous emphatic victory over neighbours St Paul’s.

Their successful Under 20 team from last year has proved to be their lynchpin moving forward. If they can maintain their current vein of form, they are a dangerous proposition for any team and will certainly go into the final rich in confidence and belief.

Dunloy enjoyed an indifferent league campaign to finish in the bottom half with their campaign interrupted by unavailability of key players owing to hurling commitments and some players spending the summer overseas. most of those players have come back on board for the championship and they have looked a side unrecognisable from the one who blew hot and cold in the league.

After a stuttering start in Group 1 where they lost 1-15 to 1-12 to Sarsfield’s at the Bear Pit, Cuchullain’s recovered to record a facile 8-12 to 1-6 home win over Ardoyne and followed that up with a 3-17 to 1-8 win over Naomh Padraig Lisburn to qualify for the quarter-finals in second place in their group.

They were drawn away to St. James’ Aldergrove in Crumlin in what looked a difficult assignment and so it proved to be but Dunloy with a raft of duel players now on board edged out the Crumlin side 1-12 to 2-7.

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 Cuchullain’s remained composed in the time that remained and had enough quality to edge home.  An equaliser through a free and scores from substitute Anthony Smith and Nigel Elliott booked Dunloy’s place in the last four.

This win set them up for a semi-final meeting with Davitt’s  at Dunsilly and Dunloy made safe passage to the 2022 Intermediate decider with 11 points to spare.  Two goals in barely two minutes of the second half was the winning of this game, substitute Michael Smith with the opening major with his first touch while Conal Cunning added the second with the next attack.  

Neither side are likely to show many changes from the side that played in their respective semi-finals though Deaglan Smith was forced to retire injured during Dunloy hurlers win over St. John’s at the weekend in the SHC semi-final.

Smith would be a substantial loss to the Cuchullain’s but they have a strong panel with Aaron Crawford, Eoin McFerran and Kevin McQuillan ever present while the inclusion of dual stars, Ryan McGarry, Nigel and Seaan Elliott, Keelan Molloy and the inspirationa Conal ‘Coby’ Cunning makes them a formidable side.

Glenravel will certainly have been buoyed by their quarter-final wins over All Saints and an even more impressive performance against Sarsfield’s in the semi-final and will believe that this could be their year.

Eoin McCusker, Conor Carey, Eoin Hynds, Callum Higgins, Aidan O’Donnell, David Higgins, Declan Traynor, Ryan McQuillan and Eamon Fyfe will spearhead the Con Magee’s challenge but Rian Lennon who missed the semi-final with a shoulder injury is doubtful and Cathal Hynds will miss out.

Much will depend on how Glenravel react to the big occasion and on their ability to contain the threat of Conal Cunning and the Elliott’s in attack and indeed how those previous semi-final and final defeats will affect the Cuchullain’s.

Both sides contain serious attacking threats and the game has the potential to be high scoring and entertaining with Dunloy given a tentative nod but it might well take extra time to separate them.

Dunloy v Davitt’s: Christopher Brogan; Anton McGrath, Aaron Crawford, Conor Kinsella; James Scally Scally, Kevin McQuillan, Eoin McFerran; Ryan McGarry, Deaglan Smith; Nigel Elliott, Eoin Gillan, Christopher McMahon; Conal Cunning, Keelan Molloy, Seaan Elliott

Subs: Michael Smith for A McGrath (45); Caolan Gillan for C McMahon (45); Ciaran McQuillan for E McFerran (54); Ryan McFarline for S Elliott (56); Tom McFerran for N Elliott (60)

Con Magee’s Glenravel v Sarsfields: J McEvoy; C Henry, E McCusker, C Carey; S Higgins, N Swann, D McQuillan, C Higgins, D Higgins, A O’Donnell, E Hynds, C McNeill, D Traynor, E Fyfe, R McQuillan

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