Northern Switchgear Senior Football Championship – Group 3
Dunloy 0-11 Creggan 1-11
Sunday 27 August
Brendan McTaggart reports from Pearse Park, Dunloy
Creggan held off the gallant challenge of Dunloy on Sunday afternoon to ensure they topped the group going into the quarter finals. With just three points separating the sides at the end of the hour, it was Aiden Maguire’s early major that proved to be the difference between the sides. The clock had just ticked into the third minute when Sean Duffin stole in behind the Cuchullains defence to create the chance that Maguire eventually squeezed over the line.
It was another stern test of the senior championship credentials for the Cuchullains. Making the step up from intermediate is never easy but Anthony McQuillan’s side were a match for their south-west counterparts for long periods of the game. With pace and trickery coming from deep, they asked plenty of questions throughout the hour but Creggan kept them at arms length during a ding-dong second half. The visitors led by three points at the short whistle and while Dunloy got to within two points on three separate occasions, Creggan had enough experience to keep the Cuchullains at bay and get over the line.
Keelan Molloy top scored for the home side, two of his six points coming from play in another strong performance while Nigel Elliott was at his enigmatic best in attack. Deaglan Smith and Ryan McGarry were hugely competitive in the middle of the park on a day where neither side were willing to conceded kick outs. The pressure was on both Oisin Kerr and Sean Doherty from the restarts but both ‘keepers will have been content with how they performed.
The marauding runs of Sean Duffin and Tiarnan McAteer proved to be hugely problematic for Dunloy with both men using pace and power on numerous occasions to break the line and create space for a side that had Liam Quinn playing close to his impish best and a solid return of two points will have pleased the Kickhams management. With Martin Johnston, Quinn, Conor and Kevin Small all making timely returns from injury, the Staffordstown Road side look to be getting the band back together at the right time of the season.
The home side made two changes from the side that defeated St Galls two weeks ago with Tom McFerran and James Scally both coming into the starting 15 but it was the visitors who started best. Duffin down the left hand side cut inside his marker and passed to Paddy Coey in front of goal. His shot was superbly saved by Dunloy ‘keeper Doherty but Aidan Maguire was on hand to lash the rebound to the back of the net.
The Dunloy response was instant with Tom McFerran firing over from distance but the Kickhams were finding joy down the left with Quinn’s opening point of the match coming from a similar scenario as their goal. His riffled effort went over the bar from an acute angle in the seventh minute but that was to be their last score until the 28th minute of the half as Dunloy began to find their feet in the game.
Frees from Coby Cunning and Keelan Molloy preceded an outrageous score from Seaan Elliott. In front of the posts and fully 45 yards from goal, Elliott pinged the ball over the bar with the outside of his boot that had the Dunloy crowd purring. A super score that brought the sides level for the first time in the game but stung the Kickhams into life.
While they didn’t have much joy in front of the Dunloy posts during that 21 minutes, they could have had a second major but Scally to clear Quinn’s effort off the line. Duffin did finally add to their score with a well-constructed move saw him cut in from the left hand side and fire over after some more patient play from his side. A Ruairi McCann free and point from Tiarnan McAteer followed to leave the half time score 1-4 to 0-4 in favour of the Kickhams.
Dunloy opened the scoring after the restart with Cunning’s second free of the game reducing the deficit to two but a quick-fire double from Coey (one free) extended the Creggan led to four just five minutes into the second half.
The Dunloy charge was led superbly by Keelan Molloy in the second half though and he fired over a brace to keep the home side in touch before Quinn’s second of the match ensured Maguire’s goal still separated the sides midway through the half.
The home side turned to the bench with Kevin and Ciaran McQuillan coming into the fray and it was the Cuchullains captain who raised the next white flag. Kevin McQuillan certainly had more on his mind when he found himself in front of Oisin Kerr’s goals and looked to have done enough when he showed super composure with ball in hand and while he beat the Kickham’s ‘keeper, Conor McCann was on hand to deflect his effort over the bar.
Dominic McAteer and Molloy swapped frees before substitutes Sam Maguire and Matthew Rodgers combined for Rodgers to fire over.
With less than 10 minutes of the game remaining, the home side were reduced to 14 men with referee Darren McKeown sending off Ryan McGarry to derail the Cuchullains charge. McAteer’s second free left four between the sides with three minutes of the hour remaining but Dunloy rolled the dice one more time.
Playing Molloy inside on his own, they used his ability to win ball superbly and he scored his fifth and sixth points of the game in quick succession to leave the game finely poised as the clock ticked into injury time.
The home side continued to pour forward in search of the goal that would give them another senior championship shock but Creggan and Joe McAteer had the final say as he kicked the last score of the game after a swift counter attack.
Creggan now look ahead to the quarter finals and a meeting with Portglenone while Dunloy will face Lamh Dhearg in two weeks time.
Dunloy: Sean Doherty; Oran Quinn, Eoin McFerran, James Scally; Chrissy McMahon, Conor Kinsella, Seaan Elliott; Ryan McGarry, Deaglan Smith; Nigel Elliott, Conal Cunning, Tom McFerran; Eoghan McGrath, Keelan Molloy, Eoin O’Neill
Subs: Ciaran McQuillan for T McFerran (45); Kevin McQuillan for E McGrath (45)
Scorers: K Molloy 0-6 (4fs); C Cunning 0-2 (2fs); S Elliott 0-1; T McFerran 0-1; K McQuillan 0-1
Creggan: Oisin Kerr; Ethan Carey-Small, Ricky Johnston, Conor McCann; Aidan Maguire, Martin Johnston, Joe McAteer; Ruairi McCann, Kevin Small; Sean Duffin, Conor Small, Tiarnan McAteer; Liam Quinn, Paddy Coey, Dominic McAteer
Subs: Matthew Rodgers for P Coey (45); Sam Maguire for M Johnston (47); Odhran McLarnon for L Quinn (51); Conor McCann for T McAteer (58)
Scorers: A Maguire 1-00; P Coey 0-2 (1f); L Quinn 0-2; D McAteer 0-2 (2fs); R McCann 0-1 (1f); J McAteer 0-1; S Duffin 0-1; T McAteer 0-1; M Rodgers 0-1
Referee: Darren McKeown (St Galls)