Northern Switchgear Antrim Senior Football Championship final.
Erins Own, Cargin 2-10 Dunloy Cuchullains 0-11
Cargin collected their 12th county title when their greater craft and know-how saw them overcome the challenge of a spirited Dunloy side who were appearing in a first final since 1936.
The Cuchullian’s have set Antrim football alight this season and after suffering relegation from division 2, last year’s Intermediate champions were not expected to make much of an impression.
However St. Gall’s, Lamh Dhearg and division 1 league champions, Portglenone have all fallen victim of their power play as a dozen of the senior hurlers have lent their shoulder to the football wheel.
Despite those successes, they went into today’s final at Corrigan against reigning champions Cargin as outsiders and for a while looked like adding another major scalp to their belts.
When Conal ‘Coby’ Cunning Cunning pointed a free in the 10th minute of the second half to edge Dunloy one ahead there would have been a few nervous punters in the Toome camp but the introduction of Mick McCann and Pat Shivers had an immediate impact with Tomas McCann, whose radar had been out of sync, equalised from a 12th minute free, which was their first score of the second half and they would push on to win fairly comfortably in the end.
Their victory is all the more remarkable as they played more than half the game with 14 men after Eunan Quinn was red carded for a dangerous challenge on Dunloy keeper, Sean Doherty in the 21st minute but a Conhuir Johnston goal in the 25th minute, after great work by Sean O’Neill saw them lead by one at the half way stage.
Tomas McCann gave the reigning champions the lead from a free in the 2nd minute but Dunloy were quick to respond and points from Keelan Molloy and a great effort from Deaglan Smith had them one ahead after 4 minutes play.
Dunloy were certainly edging the exchanges at this stage and Keelan Molloy looked to be in for a goal in the 8th minute but the Cargin defence cleared the danger.
A great point from Conal Cunning had the Cuchullian’s two in front after 15 minutes but James Laverty replied with the champion’s second point to close the gap to one.
Quinn’s straight red in the 21st minute could have been a game changer but Cargin regrouped and Sean O’Neill brought the sides level before a great run by the same player set up Conhuir Johnston for the game’s opening goal with 26 minutes on the clock.
The wing half back looked to have been fouled as he broke clear on goal but he off loaded to Johnston who appeared to lose possession but side footed coolly to the net from close range.
Dunloy replied with a point from Nigel Elliott which appeared to get an assist as it went over to leave it 1-3 to 0-5 at half time.
Coby Cunning levelled matters with a point in the second minute of the second half and John Carron pulled his shot wide of the post when he looked in for a goal as Mick McCann and Pat Shivers replaced Gerard McCann and David Johnston in the Cargin side.
McCann had an immediate calming influence as Tomas McCann kicked an equaliser with Cargin’s first score of the half and Shivers and Sean Og O’Neill added further points as the champions began to click.
Kellan Molloy replied from a 20th minute free to close the gap to the minimum once more but a minute later Conhuir Johnston struck with Cargin’s second goal after being placed by Tomas McCann.
Coby Cunning from a free and Seaan Elliott from a ‘65’ cut the defecit to two once more but that would be as close as they got with Pat Shivers hitting a great point as the game edged into injury time.
Tomas McCann punished a foul on the influential Shivers and big Pat then added another from play after great work by the influential Sean Og O’Neill before McCann concluded the scoring deep into injury time.
Keelan Molloy hit a consolation point for Dunloy with time almost up but at that stage the game had moved beyond their reach with Colin McDonald’s full-time whistle heralding a sea of green and white clad supporters onto the Corrigan sod.
Cargin scorers: C Johnston 2-0, T McCann 0-4 (all frees), P Shivers 0-3 (1 free), S O’Neill 0-2, J Laverty 0-1
Dunloy scorers: C Cunning 0-4 (2 fees), K Molloy 0-3 (2 frees), S Smith 0-1, E O’Neill 0-1, K McQuillan 0-1, S Elliott 0-1 (45)
Cargin: J McNabb; R Gribbin, K McShane, K O’Boyle; J Crozier, P McCann, S O’Neill; J Carron, G McCann; J Laverty, C Johnston, D Johnston; J Gribbin, E Quinn, T McCann.
Subs: M McCann for G McCann (36), P Shivers for D Johnston (36), B Kelly for R Gribbin (44), M Kelly for J Gribbin (60+2), C Donnelly for S O’Neill (60+4).
Dunloy: S Doherty; C Kinsella, E McFerran, J Scally; C McMahon, D Smith, O Quinn; K Molloy, R McGarry; S Elliott, C Cunning, E O’Neill; K Fitzpatrick, K McQuillan, N Elliott.
Subs: M Smith for K McQuillan (40), A McGarry for K Fitzpatrick (40), E McGrath for J Scally (60)