Cuchullains steal victory from under the Saints noses

O’Neill’s All County Football League – Division 2

Dunloy 3-0 All Saints 0-8

Brendan McTaggart reports from Pearse Park, Dunloy

They say that Dick Turpin wore a mask.  On Wednesday night Mr Turpin was wearing green and gold.  How exactly All Saint’s contrived to lose this match beggars belief.  They turned a three point lead into four points in injury time before finishing with a defeat.  The visitors will feel hard done by but it was a dramatic ending to what was a largely forgettable match.  On the opening night of the football leagues, Dunloy and All Saints didn’t exactly hit the ground running.  It was tactical ‘warfare’ with both teams involved in a chess match.  Cat and mouse.  In fairness the elements had a lot to do with the shape of the game.  It might have been a dry and sunny evening at Pearse Park but a gale was blowing down the pitch meaning it was always going to be a game of two halves.

All Saints kept the home side scoreless in the opening 30 minutes but managed just five points of their own.  It took All Saints to the 15th minute to register their first point, Patrick McAleer showing the required composure from distance before scoring four points in the last ten minutes of the half.  The Cuchullains packed their defence while dominating possession for large periods, frustrating the Ballymena men and would have been more than happy with the half time score.

The second half was more of the same but role reversal.  All Saints looked to dominate possession but carried more of a threat in attack than the Cuchullains managed in the first half.  Dunloy registered their first score of the match when Karl Fitzpatrick found the back of Emmet McAllister’s net in the 47th minute but the tenacity and tactical nous of the All Saints men kept the Cuchullains from registering another score until injury time.  Two goals in two minutes deep in injury time from Kevin McAllister and Paudraig Conlon gave the Cuchullains the league points and left All Saints speechless.  Daylight robbery on an early spring evening in north Antrim.

All Saints captain Sean McVeigh won the toss and chose to play with the wind at their back in the first half.  They couldn’t make the most of the advantage though in the opening exchanges, firing four wides in eight minutes before McAleer pointed to take the lead.  The Cuchullains managed their first shot in the 18th minute before squandering a glorious goal opportunity moments later.  Having weaved their way through a packed midfield, the Cuchullains found themselves with a man advantage through on goal.  Corner forward McAllister elected to go for goal himself but Emmet McAllister denied him superbly.

It was the shot in the arm the All Saints men required as they began to find their range before half time.  A trio of points from Michael McCarry (two frees) and McAleer’s second of the match gave their side a five point lead at the short whistle.

Five points wasn’t a huge advantage given the strength of the wind and Dunloy would have been confident of overturning the deficit after the restart but it was All Saints scored the opening point of the second half.  Eoin Campbell with the score but for the brilliance of Conor McGilligan between the posts for the Cuchullains, it could have been better for All Saints.  Campbell evading his marker before firing low only to see McGilligan superbly deflect his shot over the bar.

The home side struggled for fluency in attack and squandered the little chances they had of eating into the All Saints lead.  Just three shots at the goals in the opening quarter of the second half was a poor return given the wind advantage but probably more of a reflection of the work rate from the All Saints men.  They upped their intensity and were playing out the perfect game plan in the second half before the Cuchuallains were given a lifeline in the 45th minute.  Kevin McQuillan delivered a long ball to the heart of the All Saints defence where Conal Cunning judged the flight perfectly.  Through on goal, he poked the ball past McAllister in the All Saints goals but wide only for referee Martin Quinn to award a penalty for a foul by the All Saints ‘keeper on Cunning.  Karl Fitzpatrick made no mistake from the spot kick to halve the All Saints lead and the Cuchullains had found a second wind.

All Saints continued to soak any Cuchullains pressure  and with time ebbing towards the death, half back Ciaran McGarry pointed for what seemed like the insurance score in the second minute of injury time.

Dunloy had other ideas and scored their second goal with the next attack.  A long hopeful ball landed on the edge of the square and the All Saints defence failed to clear their lines.  No player in a green and gold shirt managed to get a touch before Kevin McAllister nudged the ball over the line.

All Saints barely had time to reorganise their defence when they were hit with another sucker punch.  The Cuchullains smelt blood and went for the jugular.  A swift move through the heart of the visitors defence found Conlon in space and the Dunloy man fired emphatically to the top corner.

Smash and grab.

All Saints pushed for the equalising scores in the time that remained but all they had to show for their efforts was a McCarry free in the seventh minute of injury time.

An incredible end and a winning start to the 2018 Division Two for the Cuchullains who travel to Tír na nÓg on Sunday week for their next match while the Saints have a trip to O’Donnell’s on the same day.

DUNLOY: Conor McGilligan; Kieran Hughes; Karl Fitzpatrick; Stephen McToal; Conor Kinsella; Jamie McFerran; Cathair McGuigan; Kevin McQuillan; Deáglán Smyth; Paudraig Conlon; Karl Fitzpatrick; Shane Dooey; Kevin McAllister; Liam McCann; Conal Cunning

ALL SAINTS: Emmet McAllister; James Gillan; Ciarán Shannon; James McDonnell; Emmet Killough; Rhys O’Mullan; Ciaran McGarry; Sean McVeigh; Patrick McAleer; Joe Rafferty; Michael McCarry; Connell Lennon; Eoin Campbell; Shea O’Brien; Cormac Lemon


Scorers for Dunloy: Karl Fitzpatrick 1-00 (1-00 pen); Kevin McAllister 1-00; Paudraig Conlon 1-00

Scorers for All Saints: Michael McCarry 0-4 (3 f); Patrick McAleer 0-2; Ciaran McGarry 0-1; Eoin Campbell 0-1