Dunsilly played host to a score-fest and an exhibition of the beautiful game on Monday evening as Dunloy claimed the reserve championship. They had five points to spare over Cushendall at the end of the hour but this was an awesome display from both sides with breath-taking scores, missed chances, brilliant goals and a red card.
The old adage of ‘goals win games’ was true once again. Dunloy took their chances, three in the first seven minutes but Cushendall were awesome in the first half. 18 points in 30 minutes of hurling yet they led by just one point at the half way mark.
The first goal came with just three minutes on the clock. Ryan McFarlane collecting the ball from Kevin McQuillan after a brilliant catch from the Dunloy full forward. McFarlane giving the Cuchullains the perfect start.
Cushendall were bombing the sliotar forward at every opportunity with Eoin Gillan’s poc out’s reaching the Dunloy ’21. With Conor Carson, Dominic Delargy and Paddy McGill all causing mayhem, yet it was the artistry of Aiden McNaughton that caught the eye in the opening exchanges. The Ruairi Og forward hit three of his sides first five points but Dunloy had their second goal between times. Gabriel McTaggart with the lay off this time for Ciaran Elliott who made no mistake from close range.
The third Cuchullain goal came from Kevin McQuillan in the seventh minute and it gave Dunloy a five point lead but Cushendall were taking their scores and chipped away at the Dunloy lead. Dominic Delargy, Ronan McAteer and Aidan McNaughton tormentors-in-chief and with 10 minutes of the half remaining the Dunloy lead was cut to the minimum.
Dunloy rallied and hit four unanswered points with Anton McGrath, Miceal Murphy (two frees) and Chrissy McMahon all finding the target but Cushendall should have had their first goal in that same period. McGill sending the sliotar to the edge of the square but Dunloy full back Karl O’Kane slipped to give Carson the space he needed. The Cuchullain’s full back somehow recovered and hooked the Cushendall target man with a brilliant piece of defending.
Cushendall finished the half strongly however with six unanswered points. McAteer, Dominic Delargy and McGill all splitting the uprights and had another massive goal chance but Aidan McNaughton’s shot was saved by Dunloy ‘keeper Paul Doherty.
Half time score Cushendall 0-18 Dunloy 3-8
The Ruairi’s had doubled their half time lead before Dunloy scored their fourth goal. Kevin McQuillan in the thick of the action before the sliotar found Murphy and ‘Bean’ smashed home to give Dunloy the lead after four second half minutes.
Cushendall continued to chip away with McGill becoming more prominent in attack. A run of four unanswered points gave the Ruairi’s a three point lead before Murphy (two) and McGrath restored parity to the score board at the second half water break.
Eamon Smyth’s second white flag of the match restored the Dunloy lead before Cushendall were awarded a penalty for a foul on Carson inside the square. McGill with the expert finish to the bottom left hand corner but the game changed with the next Dunloy attack. Cushendall defender Terry McAllister seeing red after a second yellow card and with eight minute remaining, Dunloy found another gear. Cushendall recorded just one more point in the time that remained, the brilliant Dominic Delargy with his seventh point from play while the Cuchullains found the target another eight times to put some daylight between the sides by the full time whistle.
This was a quite brilliant game of hurling. It’s not often 1-25 will be a losing score in any game of hurling and but for some last gasp defending from the Cuchullains, Cushendall could and probably should have added to their goal tally. 16 of their 18 first half points came from play – a staggering stat in itself and they showed incredible belief to stave off the early Dunloy onslaught. The Cuchullains were more clinical when it counted and took advantage of the extra man in the closing stages. Eamon Smyth and Kevin McKeague dominated the half back line in the final quarter to help the Cuchullains turn the screw while Miceal Murphy, Anton McGrath and Kevin McQuillan proved to be a handful for the Ruairi’s defence.
Dunloy: Paul Doherty; Oran Quinn, Karl O’Kane, Conor Kinsella; Eamon Smyth, Kevin McKeague, Callum Scullion; Liam McCann, Ciaran Elliott; Gabriel McTaggart, Anton McGrath, Miceal Murphy; Chrissy McMahon, Kevin McQuillan, Ryan McFarlane
Subs: Ciaran McQuillan for C Scullion (HT); Aaron Crawford for R McFarlane (47); Rory Mullan for L McCann (inj)
Scorers: M Murphy 1-7 (4f); E Smyth 0-5 (2f, 1’65); C McMahon 0-4; R McFarlane 1-1; A McGrath 0-3; K McQuillan 1-00; C Elliott 1-00; G McTaggart 0-1
Cushendall: Eoin Gillan; Joe McCurry, Terry McAllister, Seamus McNaughton; Patrick Sharpe, Liam Gillan, Ruari McCollan; Scott Walsh, Francis McCurry; Aidan McNaughton, Conor Carson, Dominic Delargy; Ronan McAteer, Paddy McGill, Andrew Delargy
Subs: Shane McNaughton for P Sharpe (47);
Scorers: P McGill 1-7 (1-00 pen, 5f, 1’65); D Delargy 0-7; A McNaughton 0-4; C Carson 0-3; R McAteer 0-3 A Delargy 0-1