O’Neills Sportswear ACHL Division 1
Loughgiel 1-23 Dunloy 0-15
Wednesday 24 May
Brendan McTaggart reports from Fr Healy Park, Loughgiel
Loughgiel maintained their 100% league record on Wednesday evening with an impressive win over old rivals Dunloy. Eleven points separated the sides at the end of the hour with the only goal of the game in injury time from Cahal Hargan. In the right place at the right time, Hargan fired home for the Shamrocks but their main scoring threat came from the outstanding Shan McGrath. The inside forward finished with 11 points beside his name, six coming from open play while he, Jack and Dan McCloskey formed a dangerous forward line. Their movement and pace created space and chances throughout and moved the Cuchullains defence to areas they could exploit. With both teams short a lot of regulars due to county commitments this Sunday against Westmeath it is hard to read much into the result, and it has to be said that the visitors suffered a bit more in this department, with the starting fifteen short nine of the team who started their All Ireland club final against Ballyhale back in January. The Shamrocks also sufferered in this department but a bit less than their visitors and they will have been delighted to maintain their 100% record They lead Ballycran on score difference and they host the Ards men at Fr Healy Park on Sunday week, a game that will be decisive in the league race.
The Cuchullains struggled in the first half against the wind and while they posed more of an attacking threat after the break, Loughgiel’s nine point half time lead rarely looked like being reeled in by the visitors.
The introduction of Chrissy McMahon gave the Dunloy attack more potency while Ryan Mort and Ronan Molloy were always a threat. Defensively they were overworked with the Loughgiel crisp and incisive passing coupled with the movement of the Shamrocks attacking unit creating space for them to exploit.
Aodhan McGarry top scored for the Cuchullains with four of his five points coming from placed ball while Mort’s contribution of 0-3 was the most from open play for the Cuchullains.
In a first half dominated by the home side, the game lacked any real intensity or fluency for that matter. Mistakes were prevalent in either side with the Shamrocks reaching double figures for wides in the opening 30 minutes while the number of individual errors from the Cuchullains was inordinate. Loughgiel did force a number of telling turnovers and capitalise on any indiscretion in the Cuchullains defence and the nine point half time difference certainly didn’t flatter them. But for the bravery of Eoghan Richmond between the sticks to stop Jack McCloskey from scoring what seemed a certain goal in the 25th minute.
The Shamrock’s late first half rally put a fairer reflection of the first half on the scoreboard with five points coming from the 28th minute and the injury time allowed at the end of the half.
Dunloy started the second half with more vigour and played with more decisiveness and desire, scoring five points in the opening six minutes of the half with a pair of frees from Declan McCloskey and Shan McGrath the response for the Shamrocks. The Cuchullains couldn’t maintain that streak of scoring however to try and put any real scoreboard pressure on Hugh McCann’s side.
By the 39th minute the nine point Loughgiel lead was restored with Tiago McGarry, Pearce Patterson and McGrath (free) finding their range before Dunloy hit four unanswered points for the first time in the match. A brace of scores from Aodhan McGarry (one free), Chrissy McMahon and a long range free from Eamon Smyth brought them to within five of the Shamrocks. It was as close as they would get to their sparring partners however.
The Shamrocks fired over five points unanswered, three from McGrath with one each for Donal McKinley and Declan McCloskey’s fifth point of the evening.
Dunloy continued to look for ways to penetrate an impressive Loughgiel defence and laid an aerial assault on the Shamrocks goals but scores from Smyth and Nicky McKeague (free) was all they had to show for their efforts.
The Shamrock’s margin of victory was given further gloss with their major coming in the fourth minute of injury time. Dunloy ‘keeper Richmond looked to have cleared the danger among a crowd of players but he was dispossessed with Hargan on hand to fire the sliotar to the back of the net.
Eight from eight for the Shamrocks in the league who travel to Corrigan Park for their next match in a weeks’ time while the Cuchullains will entertain the Johnnies in their next game on 4th June.
Loughgiel: Chrissy O’Connell; Tiernan Coyle, Daniel McPeake, Caolan Blair; Ben McGarry, Declan McCloskey, Damon McMullan; Ruairi McCormick, Tiago McGarry; Cahal Hargan, Donal McKinley, Pearce Patterson; Jack McCloskey, Shan McGrath, Dan McCloskey
Subs: Rian McKee for D McPeake (HT); Odhran McFadden for J McCloskey (HT); Conor Dickson for D McKinley (51); Nicholas McNaughton for Dan McCloskey (55)
Scorers: S McGrath 0-11 (5fs); Declan McCloskey 0-5 (3fs); P Patterson 0-3; C Hargan 1-00; T McGarry 0-2; D McMullan 0-1; D McKinley 0-1
Dunloy: Eoghan Richmond; Cahir McCloskey, Conor McKinley, Daire McMullan; Eamon Smyth, Kevin Molloy, Barry Scott; Tom McFerran, Ciaran Elliott; Aodhan McGarry, Gabriel McTaggart, Ronan Molloy; Ryan Mort, Anton McGrath, Nicky McKeague
Subs: Chrissy McMahon for C McCloskey (HT); Kevin McKeague for B Scott (HT); Barry McCloskey for A McGrath (46); Ciaran McQuillan for Kevin Molloy (54)
Scorers: A McGarry 0-5 (4fs); R Mort 0-3; G McTaggart 0-2; E Smyth 0-2 (2fs); Kevin Molloy 0-1; N McKeague 0-1 (1f)
Referee: Eamonn Hassan (Cloughmills)