O’Neill’s All County Hurling League Division One
Dunloy 2-15 Loughgiel 0-18
Wednesday June 20
Brendan McTaggart reports from Pearse Park, Dunloy
Thrills, spills, mistakes, red cards and goals. There is nothing quite like a local derby and when these two take to the pitch, more often than not they deliver a classic. With both sides agreeing to ‘double up’ and use the match as the semi-final of the Liam McGarry Cup, it brought more significance for the sides with the winner playing the victors of Thurles Sarsfields and Ballyboden St Enda’s on Saturday afternoon. It may not have been the spectacle they delivered at the end of last season’s league campaign but the drama was every bit as intense. Dunloy and Loughgiel have a rivalry that’s as old as time itself and the Cuchullains held onto the bragging rights after overcoming a two point half time deficit to see off the Shamrocks.
Both sides finished the match with 14 men, Liam Watson seeing red for the visitors to Pearse Park at the end of the first half before Conal Cunning’s match was shortened shortly after the restart. In the end it was goals that made the difference and it was Eoin O’Neill who delivered for the Cuchullains. ‘Sammy’ bagged one in either half at crucial times to lift the home side, especially in the second half when Loughgiel looked in control. The Cuchullains finished the match strongly and while Loughgiel’s challenge never faltered, the three point margin at the end of the hour was a fair reflection of the contest.
In a dogged first half where both sides weren’t at their fluent best, Loughgiel were deserving of their half time lead. They started brightly and had never gave the home side time to settle into their game. Watson was proving to be handful on the edge of the square while James McNaughton and Mark McFadden were winning the midfield exchanges. Dunloy’s first point came through a familiar source for the Cuchullains this season, Nicky McKeague landing a free after six minutes. The Shamrocks had already scored three points of their own by that stage however with Eddie McCloskey, Watson (free) and Mark McFadden all finding their range. A strong start from the visitors was almost underlined in the opening period by a Watson major but his effort was well saved by Ryan Elliott.
Loughgiel’s Liam Watson. Pic by Dylan McIlwaine
The opening 10 minutes belonged to the Shamrocks and their three point lead was restored when Watson scored his second free of the match but that was their last score for almost 15 minutes as Dunloy began to find momentum. A brace of frees from McKeague revived the Cuchullains before Eoin O’Neill struck Dunloy’s first point from play in the 14th minute. Another McKeague free, his fourth of the half tied the sides before O’Neill scored the first goal of the game. Conal Cunning laying the sliotar off to Chrissy Brogan and while Loughgiel ‘keeper DD Quinn managed to save the Dunloy forward’s shot, O’Neill was first to the rebound and managed to scoop the ball into the back of the empty net after 17 minutes.
The Shamrocks responded to Dunloy’s goal as you would expect. Finding another gear and wrestling back the momentum. These two sides can inevitably bring the best out of each other and the Shamrocks outplayed Dunloy in the second quarter. The home side wouldn’t bother the score board operative at Pearse Park for the remainder of the half while Loughgiel tagged on another six points to retake the lead. Odhran McFadden, Watson (two), Eddie McCloskey, Mark McFadden and Barney McAuley (free) raising the white flag. They had Dunloy on the ropes but they lost the momentum in first half injury time when referee Colin Murray was called to the side by his own umpire. The end result was a straight red card for Watson. A disappointing end to the half for the Shamrocks and while they held a two point lead, the Cuchullains would have been relieved to have got into the break and reorganise.
Dunloy’s Deáglán Smith – Pic by Dylan McIlwaine
It wasn’t a game for hurling purists in the first half. There was plenty of bite and needle between the sides and while it still lingered after the restart, both sides upped their game. Nicky McKeague (’65) and Ciarán Elliott raised white flags either side of a McAuley free before the first major incident of the second half saw the Cuchullains down to 14 men, referee Murray issuing a straight red card to Conal Cunning after six second half minutes.
Loughgiel managed to keep that one point advantage with Mark McFadden and McAuley (free) landing scores in response to McKeague (free) and O’Neill. The momentum swung in the Cuchullains favour once again though when O’Neill bagged their second major in the 48th minute. Nigel Elliott this time evading the clutches of the Loughgiel defence before getting his shot away. Once again DD Quinn denied the home side with a superb save but like his first, O’Neill pulled first time to the back of the net to restore the Cuchullains lead.
McAuley and Nigel Elliott swapped scores before a mammoth point from Eamon Smyth and Keelan Molloy’s first of the match opened a four point lead for the home side with five minutes remaining. Substitute Maol Connolly raised white flags either side of a Chrissy Brogan point and as the game went to the death, the home side had their ‘keeper to thank for keeping their lead intact. Joey Scullion, not long on the pitch, danced his way past three Dunloy challenges but his shot was saved by the Antrim netminder and cleared to safety.
Points from Scullion and Ryan McKee reduced the deficit to the minimum in injury time but scores from O’Neill and Nigel Elliott ensured the Cuchullains were celebrating at the final whistle.
Dunloy: Ryan Elliott; Phelim Duffin, James McKeague, Conor McKinley; Eamon Smyth, Kevin Molloy, Paul Shiels; Nicky McKeague, Ciarán Elliott; Keelan Molloy, Nigel Elliott, Deáglán Smith; Eoin O’Neill, Chrissy Brogan, Conal Cunning.
Loughgiel: DD Quinn, Paul Gillan, Tony McCloskey, Tiernan Coyle; Declan Gillan, Damon McMullan, Odhran McFadden; Mark McFadden, James McNaughton; Barney McAuley, Eddie McCloskey, Donal McKinley; Dan McCloskey, Liam Watson, Shan McGrath.
Scorers for Dunloy: Eoin O’Neill 2-3; Nicky McKeague 0-6 (5f’s, 1 ’65); Nigel Elliott 0-2; Eamon Smith 0-1; Ciarán Elliott 0-1; Keelan Molloy 0-1; Chrissy Brogan 0-1
Scorers for Loughgiel: Liam Watson 0-4 (3 f’s); Barney McAuley 0-4 (3f’s); Mark McFadden 0-3; Eddie McCloskey 0-2; Maol Connolly 0-2; Ryan McKee 0-1; Joey Scullion 0-1; Odhran McFadden 0-1
Referee: Colin Murray (Carryduff)
Pics by Dylan McIlwaine