Dunsilly did its job on a great day for hurling

By John Curly McIlwaine

It was a memorable day at a brand new venue for Antrim hurling on Sunday as Dunsilly hosted the two Senior Hurling semi-finals, and I have to say hosted them very well. On an early Autumn day, borrowed from the Summer we should have had, they came, – the majority of them for the very first time – to see the Antrim Centre of Excellence, hidden from view by the Antrim to Ballymena railway, and most of the people I spoke to went home impressed. It is far from perfect, but in the situation this summer has left us in it fitted the bill very well and the Antrim County Board have to be applauded.

However the venue was secondary on a day of great drama. Dunloy v Rossa and Loughgiel v St John’s gave us games as good as anything we have seen for years. It ended with a North Antrim derby final next weekend, but it could just as readily have been a West Belfast one, had lady luck been a little kinder to the city men.

When Dunloy sprung from the traps with their magical forward line scoring with style and grace we thought it was going to be a procession, but once Rossa got over the early nerves, and their mentors realised they needed to shore up their defence to counter such a potent attack, they clawed their way back. When Mick Armstrong, running on about two and half cylinders, got a touch on a long James Connolly delivery into the Dunloy ‘square’ and flashed the sliothar past Ryan Elliott high into the net it was game-on!

Just four in arrears at the break and Dunloy short of their great leader Shorty Shiels, and the breeze at their backs in the second half there was genuine hope. Those hopes received a bit of a setback when Dunloy opened with three points from their fluid forwards but they steadied the ship and set about their task again…. and with Aodhan O’Brien a tower of strenght they edged their way into contention to trail by just two at the second half water-break.

Substitute Conall Shannon celebrates his goal

Their goal from substitute Conall Shannon probably came too soon and you knew that Dunloy would respond. Rossa’s growing list of casualties, (borne out of a hectic championship schedule in both codes) gradually took its toll. To see Stephen Beatty and Jamie Connolly have to hobble off was sad but they had gone to the well once too often over the past number of weeks and it finally caught up with them.

Rossa were still in contention as the game went into injury time when super sub McMahon took full advantage of Woody’s brilliant block, to seal it for the champions.

The fans went home, Dunloy delighted – the rest crestfallen. The ‘good room’ was cleaned and polished and the hand sanatiser dispensers refilled for the next set of guests. Loughgiel and Dunloy fans trickled in and talked about the game that had gone before, watched, not from Dunsilly’s grassy bank, but on Antrim Facebook’s excellent coverage where Johnny Tosh’s burgeoning reputation took another step forward under the guidance of the master Jerome Quinn.  Antrim’s answer to Keyes and Grey            

We almost felt it would be too much to ask for another great game, but if anything we got one that was even better.

Big Domhnal is stapped and bandaged at half time as gets ready to re-enter the fray.

With his left arm heavily bandaged he used his hurl like Roger Federer uses his racket, though Federer never had Tony McCloskey marking him.

St John’s have come so close in semi-finals in the past to be cruelly denied at the death, we thought they must surely get a break some of these days….but lady luck was having none of it. Domhnal Nugent, big, strong, skilful and brave as a lion, had his power reduced by a bad arm injury during the first half that he was effectively playing with one arm. We watched the subs bench thinking he must surely be called ashore, but Domnhal was having none of it. With his left arm heavily bandaged he used his hurl like Roger Federer uses his racket, though Federer never had Tony McCloskey marking him. He ended with 3-3 and while there may have been some dispute over the third one, team mate Conall Bohill wasn’t going to argue.

Eddie McCloskey is helped from the field by by team physio Eddie McCormick

His marker for most of the game, Tony McCloskey, had to retire in the second half as he found out you may be able to continue with one arm, but it doesn’t work on one leg. Loughgiel plugged the gap though and they set about their business of winning the match. They thought they had in normal time only to be dragged back into the fight by Oisin Donnelly’s late equaliser.

Extra time was Loughgiel’s and their talismen Watson and McGarry delivered the killer goals. Both have been through a lot since their finest hour, when they thrilled the red army in the 2016 final in Ballycastle, but they proved they still have something to offer. McCarry was only introduced as a sub in the 53rd minute but he showed he still has that poachers touch with a goal from a narrow angle in extra time, and while Watson was obviously ring rusty he is still a threat to any defence.. and his goal was superbly taken. There were also other old hands who put their shoulder to the wheel when needed like Eddie McCloskey and Odhran McFadden.

Among the young guns James McNaughton was a bit off with his frees at times, but he still notched up 12 points and that is a good day’s work in anybody’s books, while in defence TC, Damon McMullan and Declan McCloskey had great shifts.

By this time next year we hope that Covid 19 is all behind us and it is likely that we won’t see another hurling semi-final at Dunsilly, certainly in its current state. I hope I’m wrong in that (Dunsilly…not the Covid) for it has great potential and hopefully the next phase of development will see it used a lot more. If we older followers don’t have another chance to get back we are left with the memories to two classic games and a day from the ages.

Extra-time drama as Shamrocks seal final spot

Bathshack.com Senior Hurling Championship Semi-Final

Loughgiel 2-31 St John’s 5-18

Sunday September 6

Brendan McTaggart reports from Dunsilly

Seven goals, 49 points, extra time and unrivalled drama.  Loughgiel and St Johns played out a classic on Sunday afternoon in another match for the ages.  End to end drama from the first whistle and heroic performances every corner you turned, this was an epic battle between two top sides.

In the end, the Shamrocks booked their place in the final with Benny McCarry’s extra time goal pivotal and proving to be the decisive score of what was an outstanding game of championship hurling.

James McNaughton top scored for the Shamrocks with 12 points over the 80 plus minutes while Liam Watson marked his return to the starting 15 with 1-3.  Benny McCarry came off the bench to match Watson’s score while defensively, they worked their socks off.

Loughgiel defender Declan McCloskey clears the ball

But they had to.  For the Johnnies threw everything in their armoury at Loughgiel and in Domhnall Nugent they have not only one of the most gifted hurlers of our time but an absolute warrior.  The game was barely 15 minutes old when he went down injured, holding his arm and in agony.  Not only did Domhnall see out the entirety of the game, he scored 3-3 with one mobile arm.  It was like nothing ever witnessed before and anyone will go far to see such a performance again.  He epitomised the Johnnies attitude and determination.  His tussle with Tony McCloskey was a fascinating sub plot to an already thrilling contest.  Plain and simple, Domhnall Nugent put in a performance of heroic standards.

The Johnnies started slowly as Loughgiel looked to run away with the contest in the opening quarter.  Dan McCloskey and Donal McKinley were on top on midfield while Damon McMullan was excellent at centre half.  It took a piece of brilliance to get St Johns firing and Domhnall Nugent provided that in spades.  His 20th minute goal giving his side the lead before Peter McCallin’s major just two minutes later opened a five point deficit for the Corrigan Park side.  They had the Shamrocks rattled but Loughgiel responded superbly.  McNaughton’s accuracy from frees and the mercurial Shan McGrath reducing that deficit to two points by the half time whistle.

The second half was more of the same warfare.  Brilliant scores coming at either end and pieces of individual genius littered throughout.  Loughgiel had turned their two point half time deficit to a two point lead by the midway mark of the half, keeping the Johnnies to just two points in that same period.

Aaron Bradley fires in St John’s fourth goal.

The pendulum of momentum swung once again.  Two goals in two minutes for the Johnnies, Domhnall Nugent at the centre of it, providing the assist for substitute Aaron Bradley before scoring one handed after brilliant work from Peter McCallin.

With two minutes of normal time remaining, the Johnnies looked like they had finally got over their semi-final hurdle.  Three points up and in the ascendancy, the Shamrocks had to dig deep.  With the help of over 11 minutes of injury time, not only did they dig deep but they had St Johns searching for an equaliser.  Eddie McCloskey instrumental in dragging the Shamrocks from the brink and while substitute Donal McKernan saw his tricky free drift wide, fellow substitute Oisin Donnelly scored the equalising point.  The ‘Late Late Show’ it might have been, and some were wondering where the additional time came out of but the only thing that was certain, St Johns deserved the chance to go again.

Eddie McCloskey who scored five points in the Shamrocks win over St John’s

Extra time belonged to the Shamrocks as St Johns looked dead on their feet.  Tired bodies and aching limbs on both sides, the west Belfast side looked the worse for wear.  The Shamrocks second major was the telling blow and while it was McCarry who raised the green flag, the pass from Shan McGrath was a piece of genius.  Loughgiel held St Johns to just one point in the first half of extra time and went on to build a four point lead.

St John’s came back once again and Nugent’s hat-trick was completed in the fifth minute of injury time to leave two between the sides.  With the Johnnies full back line depleted, Loughgiel took advantage with McCarry and Shay Casey splitting the posts to ensure the Shamrocks booked a date with their old rivals Dunloy in the county final.

Domnhall Nugent celebrates after scoring his first goal

TEAMS

Loughgiel: Chrissy O’Connell; Tiarnan Coyle, Tony McCloskey, Seamus Dobbin; Declan McCloskey, Damon McMullan, Odhran McFadden; Dan McCloskey, Donal McKinley; James McNaughton, Callum McKendry, Eddie McCloskey; Shay Casey, Liam Watson, Shan McGrath

Subs: Ryan McKee for S Casey (43); Ronan McCloskey for T McCloskey (53); Benny McCarry for C McKendry (53); Ciaran McKay for O McFadden (60); Shay Casey for S McGrath (ET15)

Scorers: James McNaughton 0-12 (10f); Liam Watson 1-3; Benny McCarry 1-3; Eddie McCloskey 0-5; Shan McGrath 0-2; Donal McKinley 0-2; Callum McKendry 0-1; Dan McCloskey 0-1; Ryan McKee 0-1; Shay Casey 0-1

St Johns: Declan Cregan; Sean Wilson, Ciaran Johnston, Conor Carson; Conal Bohill, Simon McCrory, Conal Morgan; Jimmy Peoples, Aidan McMahon; Padraig Nugent, Domhnal Nugent, Andy McGowan; Conor Johnston, Michael Bradley, Peter McCallin

Subs: Oisin Donnelly for A McGowan (HT); Jack Bohill for S Wilson (HT); Aaron Bradley for P Nugent (35); Ryan McNulty for J Peoples (60); Dannan McKeogh for P McCallin (ET3)

Scorers: Domhnall Nugent 3-3; Michael Bradley 0-6 (4f); Aaron Bradley 1-1; Oisin Donnelly 0-3; Peter McCallin 1-00; Conor Johnston 0-2; Conal Bohill 0-2; Padraig Nugent 0-1 (1f)

Referee: Michael Hardy (Rasharkin)

McMahon strikes again as Cuchullains defeat Rossa

Bathshack.com Senior Hurling Championship Semi-Final

Dunloy 1-22 Rossa 2-18

Sunday September 6

Brendan McTaggart reports from Dunsilly

The Antrim hurling championship truly is the gift that keeps on giving.  Dunloy and Rossa produced without a doubt the game of this and any other season at a sun drenched Dunsilly.  Four minutes into injury time with the game firmly in the melting pot, the scourge of Rossa returned.  Chrissy McMahon came off the bench to repeat his fete of three weeks ago but this time to break the Jeremiah’s hearts and send Dunloy into the county final.

Rossa’s Aodhan O’Brien goes high to control the ball on his hurley during Sunday’s SHC clash with Dunloy at Dunsilly.

This game was the proverbial rollercoaster.  Dunloy started like a house on fire and were scoring at will with Rossa giving them the freedom on the park.  Ronan Molloy’s early goal pivotal in the Cuchullains building an eight point lead.  Leaving his half back berth, Molloy surged forward and an impromptu one-two with Gabriel McTaggart, Molloy pulled first time to the Rossa net in the 12th minute.

The return of Conor McKinley the difference as the Dunloy man dominated in the half back line in those early stages with the work rate of Nicky McKeague shinning as he excelled in rucks and winning ‘dirty ball’.  Eoin O’Neill on the inside forward line was giving Rossa their fill of it and more, speed and agility with an eagle eye for point.

The Cuchullains were rocked just before the water break with the loss of Paul Shiels.  The sight of Shorty leaving the field of play was the catalyst Rossa needed.  They made changes and flooded their half back line to stop the Cuchullains from running riot and James Connolly was supremely accurate from placed ball.

Aodhan O’Brien became more prominent as Rossa nullified the Dunloy threats with every high ball into the Dunloy full back line causing carnage.  Michael Armstrong missed their match against Cargin during the week but he played on the edge of the square and caused mayhem. 

The Rossa goal came in first half injury time.  Connolly stood over a free 80 yards from goal and the sliotar dropped short.  Armstrong pulling first time in the air and giving Ryan Elliott no chance.

The Cuchullains made a bright start to the second half with Coby (free), O’Neill and Seaan Elliott all splitting the posts but the the Shaw’s Road men kept Dunloy scoreless for 19 minutes as they grinded their way back into the game.  Connolly brilliant from placed ball while Tiarnan Muprhy was excelling on the inside forward line.  They could have had their second goal in the 37th minute but for reflexes of Ryan Elliott.  Thomas Morgan collecting from Armstrong but the Dunloy ‘keeper made the save from close range.

Just two points separated the sides at the second half water break when Rossa rolled the dice.  Conall Shannon was just on the pitch when he was in the thick of the action on the inside forward line.  Mickey Armstrong once again causing havoc and as the sliotar fell lose, Shannon pulled first time to the back of the net.  He was barely on the field 60 seconds and he had the kind of impact Rossa hoped for.

Leading for the first time in the game, Rossa looked well placed to cause an upset for the second week in a row but Dunloy showed their champions pedigree.  Seaan Elliott was leading the charge for the Cuchullains and it was his brilliance that started the Dunloy resurgence.

Rossa’s busy schedule over the past few weeks began to catch up with them.  Beatty looked dead on his feet when he had to come off with a leg injury while the brilliant Connolly also joined him on the side lines.  Yet they were never ending in their pursuit of the holy grail.

Dunloy’s Eoin O’Neill sends over a first half point

The sides went toe to toe in those closing stages looking for that knock-out score.  Momentum swung this way and that and as the clock ticked into the fourth minute of injury time, Dunloy struck.  As Rossa tried to work the sliotar into the forward line, McKinley made a superb block to force a turn over.  They worked the sliotar to McMahon and lightning struck twice in this years championship.  McMahon celebrated and Dunloy knew it was the winning score.

Rossa have been the undoubted story of the 2020 championship.  They played the last quarter of the second half on adrenaline and muscle memory.  What they brought to the table this year was incredible, today was just a hurdle too far.  Dunloy’s grip on the Volunteer Cup continues for one more week.

TEAMS

Dunloy: Ryan Elliott; Conor Kinsella, Aaron Crawford, Oran Quinn; Ronan Molloy, Conor McKinley, Phelim Duffin; Paul Shiels, Nicky McKeague; Keelan Molloy, Kevin Molloy, Gabriel McTaggart; Eoin O’Neill, Conal Cunning, Seaan Elliott

Subs: Ciaran Elliott for P Shiels (15); Kevin McKeague for O Quinn (37); Chrissy McMahon for Kevin Molloy (57)

Scorers: Conal Cunning 0-7 (7f); Seaan Elliott 0-6 (2f); Eoin O’Neill 0-3; Ronan Molloy 1-00; Keelan Molloy 0-2; Nicky McKeague 0-1; Paul Shiels 0-1; Chrissy McMahon 0-1

Rossa: Donal Armstrog; Ciaran Orchin, Niall Crossan, Aidan Orchin; Gerard Walsh, Chris McGuinness, Stephen Shannon; Stephen Beatty, James Connolly; Seaghan Shannon, Aodhan O’Brien, Deaglan Murphy; Thomas Morgan, Michael Armstrong, Tiarnan Murphy

Subs: Conall Shannon for S Shannon (49); Dominic McEnhill for S Beatty (51); Dara Murphy for J Connolly (60)

Scorers: James Connolly 0-6 (6f); Tiarnan Murphy 0-4; Michael Armstrog 1-00; Conall Shannon 1-00; Chris McGuinness 0-2; Aodhan O’Brien 0-2; Deaglan Murphy 0-2 (1f); Stephen Beatty 0-1; Gerard Walsh 0-1 (1f)

Referee: Darren McKeown (St Galls)

The West is Awake but Old Firm final beckons…

Bathshack.com Senior Hurling Championship

Semi-Final Preview

By Brendan McTaggart

Four rounds of matches later, drama aplenty and we’ve reached the last four.  A last four with one notable absentee.  Before we look ahead to the two games on Sunday, it would be madness not to acknowledge the fact Cushendall haven’t reached this stage of the championship for the first time since…..well, answers on a postcard.  I have no idea and I’ve asked a few natives of the Ruairi’s and they struggled too. 

A shift in power has been spoken off.  In 1980 Joe Connolly spoke of the west being ‘Awake’ when Galway won the All-Ireland, maybe the west of Belfast is beginning to arouse from a slumber of sorts as well.  A first senior hurling semi-final for Rossa in 15 years.  An incredible stat but a sign of the times and the work being put in on the Shaw’s Road.  A fantastic group of players, there’s no doubting that and Colly Murphy has honed their talents for the past two years and they are where they are on merit. 

Against the Ruairi’s they had their homework done.  Another tick and pat on the back to Murphy and his backroom team.  A tireless performance of work rate, graft and the Boot of Beatty.  Not quite the Hand of God but maybe the GAA’s own version.  Two second half goals after moving to the full forward line and Stephen Beatty, the man who could rival Stuart Armstrong for the nicest hair in sports, has kicked the Jeremiah’s into the last four.

Loughgiel’s Calum McKendry in action againt St John’s Ciaran Johnston in last year’s SHC round robin at Fr Healy Park.

The Johnnies have been here before and came up against Cushendall, this year they have different opposition.  A hard-earned win over St Gall’s in the quarter-finals where they had four points to spare over the Milltown Row Azurri and Michael Johnston’s charges have a date with the Shamrocks.  Some will look at their performance against their west Belfast neighbours and Loughgiel’s against the same opposition and make their assumptions from there.  But this is championship hurling where anything could happen.  The Johnnies have been knocking on the door of finals day for the past three years, they have had one foot in that door on more than one occasion – maybe they’re timing their run to perfection?

A reshuffled pack after a disappointing performance against Dunloy in the last round of group fixtures saw Domhnall Nugent do a man marking job on Anton McCaffrey.  They have had their own injury concerns in recent weeks but Michail Dudley nearing a return will be a welcome sight to the Johnnies management team.

It took a goal from Andy McGowan and a penalty save from ‘keeper Declan Cregan and the Corrigan Park men are on the verge of a first senior county final since 1994.  They have the small matter of 20 time Volunteer Cup champions Loughgiel standing in their way.

For what it’s worth, the Shamrock’s haven’t lifted ‘Big Ears’ since 2016.  I hear you’re shouts, what’s four year.  Well, it’s the longest gap they’ve had from claiming the top spot in the county since bridging 21 year drought in 2010. 

There’s the hope the Johnnies needed.

TC and Pete battle it out in the Loughgiel rain last year. Their paths will surely cross again on Sunday

Looking closer, Hugh McCann’s side are the only team with a 100% record so far.  Three group matches, three wins, jobs a good’un thus far.  And when you have the talents of James McNaughton, Eddie McCloskey and Shan McGrath in your ranks, you have more than a punchers chance.

A workmanlike performance against Cushendall in the opening round preceded comfortable victories against St Galls and Naomh Éanna.  The only blip on the record is losing the services of Benny McCarry.  The Loughgiel forward had made a welcome return to the Shamrocks setup but his season has been ended with those three letters no athlete wants to hear.  ACL.  They have plenty of talent in reserves with their conveyor belt of talent coming through the minor ranks for the past two season but nothing beats experience at this stage of the championship.  The Shamrocks have that in abundance.

Wishing the Shamrocks good luck in Sunday’s semi-final

A possible subplot to this could be the contest of Neilly McGarry and Domhnall Nugent, should the Johnnies management use their versatile star man in that position.  Mouth watering.  Akin to watching Liam Watson and Ryan McNulty do battle last year in the opening round of group games at Fr Healy Park.  A contest that Loughgiel won but St Johns were well in and but for some indiscipline, they could have taken the scalp they’re yearning for in the shadows of Black Mountain.  Loughgiel start as favourites but I fully expect a different animal in St Johns to come out and push the Shamrocks all the way. 

Gerard Walsh in action against Keelan Molloy in the round robin game at Rossa Park

Reining champions Dunloy have reached the last four unbeaten, unbroken and unbowed.  Somehow.  That matters not at this stage however.  Two ‘ropey’ draws where they lost a couple of their championship ‘lives’ preceded a much-improved performance against St Johns when the pressure was on.  The Cuchullains were faced with all three scenarios and it really was win or bust but they knew that a win would put them into the semi-finals and win they did with a bit to spare.

Keelan Molloy imperious, Paul Shiels dominant and Ryan McGarry outstanding.  Job done for Gregory O’Kane’s team and they now have a rematch with Rossa.  I made promise I wouldn’t mention the injury time from their match in the group stage but it’s impossible to not speak of it when looking ahead.  Shorty’s brilliance from 30 yards and Chrissy McMahon’s gargantuan score pulled Dunloy from the brink.  Sunday’s match is mouth-watering and it is not often we get a chance for ‘take two’ of such a contest so soon but that’s what we have.  God bless this championship format.

The Jeremiah’s have been burning the candle at both ends of the GAA in recent weeks and word coming from Rossa Park, is they are now counting the costs of pushing for senior honours in hurling and football.  Michael Armstrong pulled his hamstring against Cushendall and missed the defeat to Cargin on Tuesday night in the football quarter-final but they could be without the services of Gerard Walsh (ankle), Stephen Shannon (dead leg) and Ciaran Orchin.  The physio team will be busy to get the walking wounded ready for Sunday.

Deaglan Murphy in action against Paul Shorty Shiels in the round robin game three weeks ago

Dunloy on the other hand, while also fighting on both fronts and having added reserve titles in both hurling and football this week have no such problems.  Conor McKinley missed the vast majority of the group stages but ‘Woody’ is nearing fitness and has thrown his name into the mix for a starting place on Sunday.  A welcome sight for the Dunloy management team.

Dunloy will start as favourites, regardless of what has happened this season.  The Cuchullains are the team to beat this year and the Jeremiah’s will start as underdogs.

Prediction time.

I will get a full house at some stage this season.  Dunloy are favourites and the Rossa medical bill has just reinforced that fact.  The Jeremiah’s will have to wait for a final berth for another year at least.  I just think the Cuchullains have too much firepower.

The other semi, all signs point to a Loughgiel win given recent form and while I expect that to happen, I think this will be much closer than some are expecting.  St Johns have the firepower to do damage and if Mickey Johnston and team can get their match ups right they will push the Shamrocks all the way.

But I’m sticking my £1 on a Dunloy and Loughgiel final.

Hard work was the key for Murphy

Paul McIntyre spoke with Rossa manager Colly Murphy after their win over Cushendall

After coming so close to claiming the scalps of favourites St Johns and Dunloy in the group stages, O’Donovan Rossa got the big win their play and endeavour deserved last Saturday at Hightown when the put a much more fancied Cushendall to the sword in a display of guts and determination. The Ruairí Ógs were aiming to go one better than last year when they lost to Dunloy in they final and reach an eighth final in as many years, but they came unstuck against a well drilled Rossa side that had other ideas.

Stephen Beatty’s two goals at the start of the second half swung the game for Colly Murphy’s outfit but they had so much more to do as Cushendall threw everything they had at them. As early as the first minute Chris McGuiness threw himself in the way of Aidan McNaughton’s goal bound shot and the tone was set for the rest of the day.

A well organised Rossa rear-guard suffocated the ‘Dalls’ potent attack and never allowed talisman Neil McManus time and space to stamp in influence on the game. Today, it was Rossa who decided whose terms the match would be played under. They never let Cushendall get a stranglehold on proceedings and never trailed by more than two points, in fact they kept their North Antrim opponents scoreless from play until the 22nd minute.

Stephen Beatty who scored both Rossa goals in their win over Cushendall

The game plan itself was pretty simple a delighted Murphy said after the final whistle. “Our whole game plan was to stick in the match as long as we can and keep it tight and unleash someone like (Stephen) Beatty into the square and that’s why with the wind we stuck Beatty in and he caught a few balls, and got both goals, and the man is just class, as Mickey Armstrong as a load of them are.” 

There’s been no secret recipe to the Rossa revolution. Hard work, sacrifice and most of all in Murphy’s eyes, enjoyment while also praising a new found mindset that his players have found this year. “Enjoyment is the key but you have to want to go training because you just can’t turn up on match day. Everyone wants to be number 1, but not everybody’s prepared to put the work in to be number 1. But they are now. They’re not missing training; they’re changing things to go training you can see the enjoyment they’re having; you can see the enjoyment the supporters are having which is just fantastic for the club.

Looking ahead to next weeks semi-final and a second clash with Dunloy, Murphy was quick to label the current holders of the Volunteer Cup as firm favourites. “Dunloy are overwhelming favourites. I’ve said it from the start. They’re a class act. Their movement, everything. We gave it what for up at our pitch. It’s a completely different game next week. We’ll be 5/1 again and they’ll be 1/8 which is understandable and I think that’s the proper odds, but at the same time we are in with a punchers chance. We’re still above ground.”

The Rossa manger went on to state that Gregory O’Kane’s side will now know what to expect the next day out and that the element of surprise that Rossa had the last day would now be lost. “They’ll not play the way they did against us the last day. They’ll be a lot more fluid. Everyone has watched Dunloy over the years and you know their players. But at the same time, they didn’t know ours so we probably caught them a wee bit on the hop regards that. But they know their game plan as we do for every game and we’ll take it from there.”

A different clash is expected but one that Murphy and his side are looking forward to and one that they won’t fear.