Larkin Cassidy Intermediate Football Championship Final
Dunloy vs Moneyglass –
Saturday September 19 – Throw in: 4pm
Referee: Karol Doherty (Rasharkin)
By Brendan McTaggart
The Intermediate football championship comes to a finale on Saturday afternoon with two familiar names in opposition. Dunloy and Moneyglass have both knocked on the door in recent times, both should arguably have added to their honours list by now but what lays ahead is a mouth-watering prospect of two great footballing sides coming together.
Moneyglass went into last year’s final as favourites only to come up against an inspired Aldergrove side. A monsoon lashed from the Portglenone night sky as the Crumlin men defied the odds and every punter out there to claim a deserving championship win over a shell-shocked Moneyglass side.
This year, they’ve got the bit between their teeth to go one better. Finishing unbeaten and top of their group, including a two point win over the Cuchullains at Marian Hill, the St Ergnat’s men have been favourites for the Intermediate Championship from the moment the draw was made. But, they were pushed to the pin of their collar in the semi-final.
They needed extra time to see off the challenge of St Paul’s under the floodlights in Ballymena – a match where they didn’t look at the races for 40 minutes of normal time. But the belief they showed to claw their way back into that game should be the boost they need ahead of Saturday’s final.
St Paul’s had them on the ropes with an aerial bombardment and defensive shrewdness. Conor Boyd, Dermot McErlain and Jack McCoy led the fightback as they reeled the Shaw’s Road side in and Seanchann Duffin’s extra time goal proved to be decisive.
In their semi-final win against All Saints, Dunloy had five starters in their 15 who played in their senior hurling success on Sunday past but the majority of the Cuchullains panel are dual players. They will have enjoyed Sunday and Monday, no doubt but they have their eyes on a double – a fete they completed 13 years ago. Their hurlers defeated Loughgiel in the decider that year as well before the big ball had their day, defeating Naomh Éanna in the decider at Casement Park.
For 45 minutes against All Saints, the Cuchullains looked a level above. How they mix their attack leaves the opposition guessing. The speed and agility of Keelan Molloy, Conal Cunning and Seaan Elliott running from deep while Caolan Gillan and Kevin McAllister can prove to be elusive target men on the inside forward line.
When the two sides met in last years championship first round, Colm Duffin orchestrated a comfortable win for Moneyglass. A masterclass from midfield in a display where the Cuchullains gave him the freedom of Páirc Uí Chellaigh. Nine points with just three from frees is telling figures and a quite brilliant performance on the day. I would expect Dunloy to be more vigilant of the Antrim man and while St Paul’s kept him relatively quiet in the semi-final, ‘Smiley’ can step up and be the match-winner if he’s not looked after.
Dermot ‘Bugsy’ McErlain provides attacking impetus and makes Moneyglass tick. Normally in a deeper roll, allow McErlain to run at you at your peril. Speed, agility and a turn of pace that can leave the best man marker on the turf.
Sean Kelly plays the sweeper roll and is capable of joining in attack when the opportunity presents itself. Peter McCormick and Conor Boyd also keen to go forward and join an already impressive attacking unit. Expect Patrick McCormick, Jack McCoy and Kevin Marron to give the Cuchullains all they want and more.
Last year, Colum Duffin’s onslaught and Conail Prenter’s two goals proved to be the decisive scores. The good news for the Cuchullains is Prenter misses out through injury. The bad news, McCoy is a more than able replacement. His performance against St Paul’s showed the Moneyglass forward has more belief in his own game and a confidence that makes him a dangerous prospect.
Dunloy have their own dangermen and pace all over the field. Injury concerns all over the field and given their hectic schedule that is unsurprising but this is where they want to be. They have navigated their way through their dual minefield with this goal on their mind. Just like Moneyglass after last years defeat at the final hurdle.
Saturday will be the day one of these sides exorcise the ghost of championships past. The day a bridesmaid becomes the bride. Who that will be, Dunloy or Moneyglass? The bookies have the St Ergnat’s men as slight favourites at 8/11 but if there’s one thing the Cuchullains love to do, it’s defy the odds.