Dunloy forward Conal Cunning speaks with Brendan McTaggart after helping to steer his side to victory against Cushendall in the Senior hurling final….
Conal Cunning was the toast of the Cuchullain faithful on Sunday afternoon as he gave another mesmerising display for his side. Finishing with 11 points beside his name, ‘Coby’s’ free taking proved vital for the Cuchullains in an epic contest with Cushendall. The Ruairi’s played with an aggression and intensity mixed with brilliance of Neil McManus and guile from their runners, Coby told us it was every bit the battle they thought it would be: “Cushendall really put it up to us. They had their game plan set out, we knew exactly what they were doing but it was a tough task.”
The Cuchullains got off to the worse possible on Sunday with the concession of a goal inside 20 seconds. It was a test of their character and Coby said it was a matter of trusting the process and a time for calm heads: “It’s probably better it happens then than 10 minutes into the game. Three points down straight away and down at half time but we knew that’s the way it was going to be. We knew what Cushendall were going to bring but we went to the well and came out on the right side of it.”
Dunloy manager Gregory O’Kane called the half time interval key in getting his side set up. Coby agreed by adding: “It was a wee bit dull because we conceded two goals that we were really disappointed with. In the first minute and then the high ball in. But we knew if we get going and get our shots off, score the percentages we can, we knew we’d win the game.”
With the game in the melting pot, Dunloy found another level. With turnover ball in defence and finding quick ball out of rucks, their big players stepped up when they were needed but as Cunning told us, it was of no surprise to him that they finished the match in the manner they did: “Look we have plenty of leaders in this team. It’s not just one or two boys, every position has a leader, working hard and sacrificing for the team. You could see that, whoever gets on the ball, took on the shot, took on the opportunities and got us over the line.”
Cunning now has a record equalling four in a row and five senior championships in six years. With bigger challenges ahead, he told us: “It’s good. This is probably the sweetest one apart from the first. That was championship level there.
“It’s time for the Creagh Lorry to get struck up and the celebrations started.”