Dunloys historic season hits new heights with win over Lámh Dhearg

Northern Switchgear Antrim Senior Football Championship Quarter-final 

Lámh Dhearg 3-12-2-18 Dunloy (AET)

Kevin Herron reports from Dunsilly 

Dunloy extended their Senior Championship run with an epic 2-18-3-12 win over Lámh Dhearg in Friday evenings Northern Switchgear Antrim Senior Championship quarter-final at Dunsilly. 

Renowned for their superb hurling history, the Cuchullain’s have proved their football pedigree with minor and U-21 successes in the last decade and earlier in the week claimed the Reserve Shield with victory over Con Magee’s. 

Keelan Molloy had to retire injured in the first few minutes of the game after going over on his ankle

A Championship victory over St Gall’s earlier in the Group stage and Friday evenings victory over Lámh Dhearg is testament to the North-Antrim outfit – who are riding the crest of a wave and aren’t prepared to see their journey come to an end as they advance to the last four. 

Having topped Group 2 of the Championship with victories over Ahoghill and Portglenone, Lámh Dhearg began as the bookies favourites- though were without Paddy Mervyn [injury] and Declan Lynch [suspension], while Dunloy also had to make do without the services of Ryan McGarry [suspension]. 

Dunloy hit the front inside of five minutes on a sun-soaked evening in Antrim town through a smart Seaan Elliott point, though Marc Jordan dropped over an equaliser almost immediately. 

Further points were traded between Conal Cunning and Conor Murray and Dunloy continued to press ahead with Kevin McQuillan converting his sides first placed ball of the evening from an advanced mark. 

They then doubled their lead courtesy of a converted 45’ from Elliott and ten minutes before the break went 1-04-0-02 ahead when their talisman pulled the trigger from Conor Kinsella’s slipped pass and found the bottom right-hand corner.

That sparked a response from the Hannahstown side with Owen McKeown swinging over his sides initial reply and Eoin Matassa then steering a shot between the posts. 

Deaglan Smyth opened his account for the evening to move his side four to the good, but a quickfire double had Lámh Dhearg ahead at the interval. 

Owen McKeown used his pace and found the overlapping run of Marc Jordan- who cut inside and directed his high shot into the top corner to bring things back to a single point (1-05-1-04). 

Marc Jordan (9) sends the ball high into the Dunloy net

A matter of minutes later the Hannahstown side forged ahead when Declan Smith continued his run at the by-line and did enough to poke a low shot past Sean Doherty to give his side a 2-04-1-05 lead. 

A free from Elliott in response ensured that just the bare minimum separated the sides at the end of an absorbing half of football. 

Lámh Dhearg extended their lead three times within the opening ten minutes of the restart. Declan Dunne kicked successive placed balls, the second of which was from a difficult angle close to the side-line but dropped over regardless. 

Conal Cunning shot back on each occasion and despite Decky Smith making it a two-point game again, Dunloy weren’t backing down with namesake Deaglan Smyth landing a fine effort from play. 

Midway through the second period Dunloy restored parity through a close-range Cunning free, but Lámhs substitute Paddy Cunningham would kick his first score since his introduction. 

Cunningham’s attempt at doubling his tally would inadvertently lead to his side scoring their third of the evening on the 52nd minute. 

The 39-year-old lined up a shot that dropped into a ruck and Declan Smith was on hand to rifle home his second of the evening and make it 3-08-1-10. 

Smith’s strike looked to have been decisive as his side aimed to close the game out and claim their spot in the last four. 

However late drama was about to unfold as Dunloy forced a turnover and quickly turned defence to attack with Cobi Cunning sending the ball across to the back post where substitute Mickey Smyth was waiting to palm home to the net to set up a grandstand finish.

The Lámhs sought an insurance score in the form of a fourth goal, but after seeing a potential opening extinguished, Conor Murray popped the ball over and gave them a two-point lead with almost six minutes of added time up. 

Murray’s point was cancelled out almost instantly by substitute Eoghan McGrath and with time elapsing Dunloy earned themselves a chance of forcing extra time when they were awarded a free that Darren McKeown then moved forward for dissent and that allowed Conal Cunning the chance to stroke over- which he duly did to tie things up at 3-09-2-12 as extra time was required under the Dunsilly lights. 


Dunloy drew first blood at the beginning of extra-time with McGrath doubling his tally. Although the Cuchullain’s were forced to play out virtually the whole of first period a man light when Oran Quinn was shown a black card by referee McKeown. 

Conor Murray levelled things up after firing over just seconds after seeing his close rage effort blocked on the line after Sean Doherty had spilled the ball at his feet. 

Conal Cunning nudged his back in front, only for Marc Jordan to restore parity with the last kick of the first period. 

Lámh Dhearg were quikcest out of the blocks at the beginning of the second period of extra-time and an excellent angled point from the boot of Adam Murray had his side 3-12-2-14 ahead. 

Parity was restored for the final time in the contest with Seaan Elliott converted his second 45’ of the evening. 

Dunloy then seized the initiative and a fisted Nigel Elliott point had them in front. Conor Murray somehow blazed wide at the other end and it was an opportunity the Lámhs would rue. 

Conal Cunning doubled his sides lead from a converted free and then contributed to a one-two that saw Seaan Elliott drop over the score to seal victory for Cuchullain’s and a win that sees them advance to the semi-final of the Senior Football Championship. 

Lámh Dhearg: J Finucane, R Murray, B Rice, A McAufield, O McKeown (0-01), M McGarry, M Hynds, P Fitzsimons, M Jordan (1-02), D Smith (2-01), S McManus, E Matassa (0-01), T McCrudden, D Dunne (0-02f), C Murray (0-03). Subs: P Cunningham (0-01f) for A McAufield (42), F Mervyn for M Hynds (52), C Maxwell for E Matassa (57), A Murray (0-01) for S McManus (60). Subs in ET: M Hynds for C Maxwell (61’), P Larkin for B Rice (69), J Quinn for D Dunne (76), E Matassa for T McCrudden (80+1). 

Dunloy: S Doherty, C Kinsella, E McFerran, K O’Kane, C McMahon, D Smyth (0-02), O Quinn, C McQuillan, K Molloy, N Elliott (0-01), C Cunning (0-07,0-06f) E O’Neill, K Fitzpatrick, K McQuillan (0-01m), S Elliott (1-05, 0-02 45’, 0-01f). Subs: T McFerran for K Molloy (7), A McGarry for C McQuillan (46), E McGrath (0-02) for K Fitzpatrick (53),M Smyth (1-00) for K McQuillan (56).ET: S McAleese for E O’Neill (69).

Referee: Darren McKeown (St Galls)

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