Antrim Camogie League – Division 1
Dunloy 1-12 Ballycastle 1-11
By Paul McLean
League games can be sometimes labelled as dull affairs, especially when the clubs are minus their county contingency with the split season, but this game played at Pearse Park was played like an August championship contest.
With the Intermediate and Senior panel members out of both sides it was a chance for other players to step to the front and both managements will be happy with the showing from their respective panels.
The first half was very tight with Ballycastle playing against the wind and electing to adopt a sweeper to curb the Dunloy forwards, but it was Dunloy who stepped in front with a brace of points from a Caoimhe Molloy free and one from play from sister Katie.
Áine Donnelly opened the Ballycastle girls account wide on the right-hand side following good defensive work by the returning Niamh Donnelly.
Caoimhe Molloy pointed for the home side but with so little between the sides it was of no surprise that they reduced the gap again. A fine solo run and strike on the wing by Nuala Delvin was then followed up by a Fionnula Kelly point to make it a two-point game.
The sides continued to exchange scores with points from Caoimhe Molloy, Lisa McConville and Eimear Johnstone for the home side and Áine Donnelly, Kelly and Devlin but it was both teams backs who really stood out.
Full backs Kathryn Donnelly and Elis Kearns were both in excellent form standing strong along with the rest of the backlines.
With no more scoring to the break the half time score read 0-09 to 0-07 with nothing between the sides.
Caoimhe Molloy got the opening two scores of the second half as Dunloy started the stronger team. The wind that was much stronger in the first half seemed to die down which allowed the home side to do without any sweepers.
Dunloy pushed even farther ahead when a long free from Caoimhe Molloy dropped into the box where full forward Orlagh O’Neill pulled on it and got enough contact on it to divert it past the keeper into the net.
Another point by Caoimhe Molloy should have been the score that put the visitors away, but it wasn’t to be as they rallied themselves in the final 15mins of the game to get back into it.
Catherine McShane pointed a free to get the Ballycastle girls first score of the half but it was a cross field ball to half forward Nuala Devlin who took on two defenders to bear down on goal that got them going. The speedy winger took on her player and the space opened up in front of her to finish to the roof of the net, despite the best efforts of Mary Martin in nets.
The same player repeated the dose not long after although this time she settled for a point. With the pressure telling Dunloy gave away two frees which were well taken by Aine Donnelly to reduce the difference to the minimum.
The last few minutes of the game were nip and tuck with both teams going at it and in particular the Dunloy defence who to their credit stood strong. Niamh Ann Donnelly worked two good shooting opportunities but the forwards struggled to find time and space to get their shots away. A fine brace of blocks by Sorcha Conlon and Katie Molloy really made the difference as they denied certain scores.
A really good game from both sides which seem Dunloy winning by a point at the final whistle.
Despite both sides being missing a number of key players both managements will have been happy with what they have seen from their panels as both teams served up an excellent game.
Kathryn Donnelly at full back was very good along with the returning Niamh Donnelly at centre half who also had a very good game. Up front Fionnula Kelly and Nuala Devlin were the best of the forwards.
For the home side Eilis Kearns and Sorcha Conlon were very good and well served beside them by Sarah McIlhatton and Kyra Doherty. Caoimhe Molloy and sister Katie were very strong along with the hard-working Eimear Johnstone.