O’Neill’s All County Football League Division 2A
Dunloy 1-10 Gort na Mona 2-10
Brendan McTaggart reports from Pearse Park, Dunloy
Gort na Mona kept their feint hopes of promotion alive with a last gasp victory in Pearse Park on Friday evening. Two goals in the last five minutes from Desi McClean and Padraig McHugh helped the Turf Lodge men to avenge their early season loss to the Cuchullains and record a three point win.
After dominating the first half, the Gort’s were camped in their own half for long periods after the half time interval. Dunloy were vastly improved from their first half efforts and were making light of playing into a stiff wind. The Cuchullains challenge was helped when Christopher ‘Rash’ Devlin was sent off for a dangerous tackle on Deáglán Smyth after nine minutes of the second half. The Cuchullains took advantage and built a three point lead going into the final ten minutes, thanks largely to a Karl Fitzpatrick goal shortly after Rash’s red card. It was the minimum the home side deserved after passing up on three goal chances before finding the back of the net.
Gort fought back in the closing stages however with McClean’s composed finish and a deft lob from McHugh. The Cuchullains almost grabbed a share of the points with the last play of the hour, Kevin McQuillan getting on the end of a high ball to the edge of the square but his shot fizzed to the wrong side of the post for the home side as the Turf Lodge men celebrated at the final whistle.
Having elected to play with the wind in the first half, Dunloy opened the scoring with just 25 seconds on the clock. McQuillan firing over to give the home side the perfect start. It would be their last score for 15 minutes though as the Gorts took control. A mix of solid defending and patient football allowed the Turf Lodge men to control the first half while the Cuchullains couldn’t enforce their style of play on the game at all. Thomas McGoran was outstanding in the opening quarter while Gary Doyle and Daniel McErlean helped to keep Dunloy under pressure by winning the majority of second phase ball.
A run of five unanswered points from the visitors gave them a substantial lead, despite playing into the wind. The impressive Dermott McHugh (two), Padraig McHugh, McClean and McErlean raising the white flag as they terrorised the Cuchullains defence – McErlean’s effort with the outside of his right boot from distance the pick of the opening scores.
The home side’s forays into the Gort half were few and far between in the opening quarter but they should have found the back of the net during the visitor’s dominance. Ciaran Kelly producing a point blank save to deny Paudie Conlon.
With ‘Poggy’ McHugh proving to be a handful on the edge of the square and the Gort players feeding off him, the home side were forced into a defensive reshuffle. A long distance free from Caolan ‘Booter’ Gillan in the 16th minute seemed to act as a catalyst for Dunloy as they found a way back into the match in the time that remained of the first half.
Booter pointed his second free of the match with Deáglán Smyth splitting the posts soon after to leave the minimum between the sides – the Cuchullains with three points in as many minutes to drag themselves back into the contest.
Dermott McHugh pointed a free in the 19th minute to restore the Gort two point advantage but they should have been further ahead with the next attack. Overturning the ball in midfield, the Gorts countered with space developing in the Dunloy defence. The ball found its way to Dermott McHugh but the Gort forward blazed his shot high and wide with the goal at his mercy. A let off for the home side and they took advantage. Points from Captain Kevin McAllister and Booter’s third free of the half left the sides tied at 0-6 apiece at the short whistle.
Gort looked favourites to record a comfortable victory at half time, such was their dominance for long periods of the first half. However the home side were a different animal after the restart but spurned three goal chances in the opening five minutes. Thomas McGoran first of all getting a vital flick after diving at full stretch to deny McAllister with the goal at his mercy. Two minutes later it was McAllister again, the diminutive forward leaped highest to palm a pass from Caolan Gillan towards the Gort goal but Ciaran Kelly dived at full stretch to deny Dunloy once again. The third chance came as Karl Fitzpatrick drove at the Gort defence before passing to Booter in space. The Dunloy forward got his shot away but Declan Hughes was on hand to thwart the home side.
A frenetic opening to the second half with the Gort defence just about withstanding the Dunloy onslaught. The opening score of the second half came through a Ciaran Donnelly point in the 37th minute and while the home side could have been deflated having not taken the lead after their start to the second half, they were given a lift when Gort were reduced to 14 men in the 39th minute. Smyth taking the ball down the Gort left and Rash Devlin’s tackle was deemed to be dangerous and high. Despite his protestations, the Gorts were now a man less with and the Cuchullains took advantage. As they carved through the Gort defence once again, Declan McGarry’s pointed effort was blocked and fell to Fitzpatrick on the edge of the square. The Dunloy man fired to the bottom corner to give the home side the lead in the 40th minute and it was just rewards for the home team’s efforts.
Dunloy continued to dominate but Gort na Mona hung in to stay in touch. Dermott McHugh (free) and Booter Gillan swapped scores before Diesel Boyd landed a free from distance to reduce the Dunloy lead to the minimum half way through the second half.
A brace of points from Booter, his fifth of the match and a left footed effort from Kevin McQuillan gave the home side a three point lead with just over five minutes remaining but Gort hit back and finished the match in style. Their first goal came through a long ball to the heart of the Dunloy defence where substitute Brendan Corr flicked the ball towards Desi McClean and the Gort forward found the back of Conor McGilligan’s net with a smart finish to restore parity to the sides once again.
Eoin Gillan restored the Dunloy lead before Diesel’s second point of the match tied the sides once again but disaster struck for the home side from the next kick out. McGilligan’s restart was intercepted by Poggy McHugh and the Gort man lobbed the Dunloy goalkeeper with a cool finish to all but guarantee the points for the Turf Lodge men.
Dunloy pushed for the equalising goal in the time that remained and went close with McQuillan’s effort with the last kick of the game but it was 14 man Gort na Mona who celebrated a hard earned victory at the final whistle.
Dunloy: Conor McGilligan; Sean Og McErlean, Oran Corrigan, Conor Kinsella; Stephen McGuigan, Jamie McFerran, Deáglán Smyth (0-1); Kevin McQuillan (0-2), Eoin Gillan (0-1); Paudie Conlon, Karl Fitzpatrick (1-00), Anthony Doran; Declan McGarry, Kevin McAllister (0-1), Caolan Gillan (0-5 3f’s)
Gort na Mona: Ciaran Kelly; Conor Connolly, Thomas McGoran, Christopher Devlin; Michael Savage, Gary Doyle, Aidan McGoran; Patrick McCaffrey, David McErlean (0-1); Ciaran Donnolly (0-1); Darren Boyd (0-2 1f); Desi McClean (1-1); Declan Hughes; Dermott McHugh (0-4, 2 f’s); Padraig McHugh (1-1)
Referee: Karol Doherty (Rasharkin)