Cuchullains Cruise to Intermediate Title 

OB Construction Intermediate Football Final

Dunloy 0-14 Glenravel 0-10

Saturday 8 October

Brendan McTaggart reports from Dunsilly

The bridesmaid finally became the bride.  Dunloy have been knocking on the door for the Intermediate crown for the last eight years, on Saturday they finally got over the line.  Four points the difference at the end of the hour, much of that down to the heroics of James McEvoy between the sticks for Con Magees.  Five saves, three in the first half, McEvoy was outstanding for the Glenravel men and it was his efforts that kept the score line respectable, especially in the opening 30 minutes.

Dunloy’s Seaan Elliott is closed down by Glenravel’s Calum Higgins

In a first half that the Cuchullains dominated, much of that was down to their dominance in midfield.  Despite missing the talents of Deaglan Smith from injury, Ryan McGarry and Eoin McFerran were superb.  Winning clean ball, primary possession then recycling or giving to runners off the shoulder and Dunloy had plenty of them.  Seaan and Nigel Elliott left the Con Magees chasing their shadows on countless occasions, Keelan Molloy and Conal Cunning with the scores.

Defensively, Dunloy had their homework done.  Aaron Crawford was given the unenvious task of keeping tabs on Eamon Fyfe.  The Con Magees man finished with eight points beside his name, three of those from play but he had little in the way of support as the Cuchullains controlled this game from the first whistle.

The opening minutes were cagey with Con Magees having the lions share of possession.  Dunloy set up well to counter and opened the scoring through Keelan Molloy’s effort after just two minutes.  Eamon Fyfe replied with a free in the fifth minute but Dunloy’s midfield dominance began to pay dividends and they turned the screw on the Con Magees defence.  A brace of scores from Conal Cunning (one free) edged Dunloy ahead by two but scores weren’t easy come by.  Despite not winning the aerial of ground battle from restarts, the Glenravel men had created a white and green wall that the Cuchullains took some time to adapt to.  

Glenravel goalkeeper James McEvoy kept his team in the game with a series of outstanding saves

Another point from Cunning put three between the sides before Dunloy created their first chance for a major.  Cunning judging the flight of the ball and rolling his marker but his effort went just wide.  Referee Darren McKeown had called advantage for an infringement on Cunning and Molloy converted to put the Cuchullains ahead by five midway through the first half.

Any attacks from the Con Magees were fleeting with Fyfe living off scraps.  They were forced into shooting from difficult angles and from distance.  McEvoy was in action again when he denied Cunning from close range but another lightning Dunloy counter resulted in Molloy splitting the posts.

Eamon Fyfe converted a free to register Glenravel’s second point of the final in the 22nd minute but Dunloy were starting to cut loose.  Seaan Elliott thundering through the heart of the Glenravel defence but his rasping drive was turned over the bar.  McEvoy with a save right out of the top drawer.  Seaan Elliott (free) and Fyfe (mark) swapped scores before Keelan Molloy fired over his fourth point of the half to leave the half time score 0-9 to 0-3 in favour of the Cuchullains.

Conal Cunning sends over a Dunloy point from a free

It was pretty much a one sided affair in the opening half and a six point lead was the minimum the Cuchullains deserved.  The Glenravel men were second best all over the pitch and needed something special to get back in to the final and Fyfe was doing his best to accommodate.  He scored the opening point of the second half from wide on the right and off balance.  The Con Magees faithful were celebrating before Fyfe managed to get back to his feet.  A wonderful point that should have breathed life into the Glenravel challenge.  It didn’t.  What followed was more of the same precision from the Dunloy forwards with James Scally and Cunning (free) getting the scoreboard going again in the second half for Dunloy.

Seaan Elliott and Fyfe swapped frees before Fyfe added his second from play, scoring his and Glenravel’s sixth point of the game midway through the second half.

The Con Magees challenge was seriously dented when Conor McNeill was sent off for an overzealous challenge on Seaan Elliott.  Cunning executed the resulting free but the Dunloy numerical advantage was short lived with Eoin Gillan seeing black just three minutes later.

Eamon Fyfe sends over a Glenravel point

McEvoy was once again on his game to deny substitute Caolan Gillan before Fyfe (free) and Daniel McQuillan reduced the Dunloy lead to five points.  The first time in the game the Con Magees registered back to back scores, coming eight minutes from time.

Another McAvoy save denied Seaan Elliott before Cunning took his tally to six points for the final with five minutes remaining.  That would be the Cuchullains last score but they had enough on the score board to see out the time that remained.

Eoin Hynds (free) and Fyfe split the uprights for Glenravel, Fyfe’s effort just clipping the crossbar before going over but they never got the major they needed to worry the Dunloy defence.

At the final whistle the cheers went up.  Among the shouts of congratulations and hugs, a sigh of relief could be heard.  A mix of ecstasy and relief on faces young and old.  In recent times Dunloy have flattered to deceive in the Intermediate decider but today was their time.  The side have matured together and if the old saying goes, you have to lose on to win one, you got the feeling that Dunloy were never going to let this one slip.  The Cuchullains bridge a 15 year gap from their last Intermediate title and take the cup to Pearse Park.

TEAMS

Dunloy: Christopher Brogan; James Scally, Aaron Crawford, Conor Kinsella; Oran Quinn, Kevin McQuillan, Anton McGrath; Ryan McGarry, Eoin McFerran; Nigel Elliott, Eoin Gillan, Christopher McMahon; Conal Cunning, Keelan Molloy, Seaan Elliott 

Subs: Caolan Gillan for C McMahon (34); Michael Smith for A McGrath (56); Ciaran McQuillan for R McGarry (59); Anthony Smith for N Elliott (60); Ryan McFarline for K Molloy (60)

Scorers: C Cunning 0-6 (3fs); K Molloy 0-4 (1f); S Elliott 0-3 (2fs); J Scally 0-1; 

Glenravel: James McEvoy; Charlie Henry, Sean Higgins, Conor Carey; Rian Lennon, Niall Swann, Daniel McQuillan; Calum Higgins, David Higgins; Aidan O’Donnell, Eoin Hynds, Connor McNeill; Declan Traynor, Eamon Fyfe, Ryan McQuillan

Subs: Eoin McCusker for A O’Donnell (22); Kieran McKeown for C Henry (HT); Sean McKay for R Lennon (HT); Conleth O’Loan for S Higgins (36); Martin McCarry for D McQuillan (60)

Scorers: E Fyfe 0-8 (4fs, 1m); D McQuillan 0-1; E Hynds 0-1 (1f)

Referee: Darren McKeown (St Galls)

Dunloy players and subs jump for joy at the final whistle. Pic by Bert Trowlen
Nigel Elliott receives the Saffron Gael Man of the Match award after the game

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