A weekend to remember for Antrim and Ulster clubs, marked by two brilliant goals

Two special goals by two special players Caitrin Dobbin and Keelan Molloy

By John Curly McIlwaine

Two great Croke Park goals, both by Antrim players in a great weekend for Antrim and Ullster hurling and Camogie. Down champions Clonduff got it all underway at Croke Park on Saturday afternoon when they beat Kilkenny and Leinster champions James Stephens in the Intermediate final, Paula O’Hagan and Sarah Louise Graffin leading the line. O course Sarah Louise is married to Cushendall’s Arron Graffin, while substitute Ursuala Kearney is married to another Cushendall man, Ciaran Kearney. To complete the Cushendall treble Claire Kearney, who was an All Ireland Junior All Ireland medal winner with Antrim at Croke Park earlier in the summer, made it a double when she lined out at right half back her new club Clonduff. On the line for the ‘Yellas’ were two Antrim men Kieran McGourty and Alastair McGilligan, Alastair starting off a great weekend for his native Dunloy. One other Antrim connection – Rasharking Camogs played in the half time mini games.

Loughgiel were next on show and though the Sharmrocks lost out narrowly to reigning All Ireland champions Sarsfields they can count themselves a little unlucky as the gave a brilliant display, one everyone in the club can be rightly proud of. A slow start was to cost them but they got back into the game with a brilliant goal from Caitrin Dobbin and with Roisin McCormick back at her brilliant best they gave the champions the fright of their lives.

Loughgiel camogs stand for the anthem before the senior final against Sarsfields of Galway

On Sunday it was turn of Bridini Oga, Glenravel to show their skills as they took on Adare from Limerick in the All Ireland Junior Camogie final, just up the road from Croke Park at Abbotstown Centre of Excellence. The biggest game in the club’s short history and reserved their best display of the year for the occassion as they edged out the challenge of the Limericks side to book a final place in two weeks’ time.

Sarah Fyfe who scored four points from play for Bridini Oga Glenravel in their win over Adare of Limerick

Back in Croker Dunloy Cuchullains took centre stage and though nobody in the national media, or even the local bookmakers, gave them a chance, they upset the odds with a great display of hurling to set up a final place against the greatest club side in the history of hurling, Ballyhale Shamrocks, who later in the day beat last years winners Ballygunner of Waterford in a classic game.

Even that game had an Antrim connnection as Colum Cunning, whose cousins had figured strongly in the Dunloy team in the opening game, was one of the linesmen.

Keelan Molloy cuts through the St Thomas’ defence on his way to scoring one of the goals of the year. Pic by John McIlwaine

Conal Cunning was running at the St Thomas defence, while later in the day his cousin Colum was running the line in the Ballyhale v Ballygunner semi-final

Back to the two goals that had everyone talking, the first on Saturday by Caitrin Dobbin for Loughgiel and the second by Keelan Molloy for Dunloy the following day, Molloy’s major now forever linked to Mark Sidebottom’s great commentary. Mark seemed to save his best work for St Thomas’s games. Who will ever forget his discription of Liam Watson’s last gasp penalty against the Galway men in Parnell Park in 2014.

Overall a weekend to remember and lots more to look forward to in 2023

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