Dunloy Minors Win Four-In-A-Row
30th October 2018
Minor A Championship Final Replay
Dunloy Cuchullains 1-19 Loughgiel Shamrocks 3-12
Report from The Saffron Gael
They say lightning doesn’t strike in the same place twice, it did in Páirc MacUílín. Two weeks after their epic first match, Loughgiel and Dunloy did it again. 60 minutes of untainted, unadulterated championship hurling in its rawest and purest form. As fine an advert for hurling at any grade as you will ever see anywhere in the country. In the end, it was going to take something special to sperate these two age old rivals and Dunloy’s Seaan Elliott delivered. Standing over a free 40 yards from goal in the second minute of injury time, the pressure was there. A couple had gone astray for the young Dunloy star during the hour but Elliott was the calmest man on Páirc MacUílín pitch. The Cuchullain’s star forward was celebrating before the sliotar reached the target. His eleventh point of the match and the decisive score. A defining moment for Elliott who has battled back from a cruciate injury last season and after a long winter of rehab, Sunday was his own personal moment of redemption.
On a day when no-one deserved to lose, the Shamrocks were dealt the hand they didn’t want. They played their part in what was an outstanding game of hurling and showed the heart and character that has driven them all season. Odhran McMullan, two weeks ago the Shamrocks saviour was once again superb at the heart of the Loughgiel defence along with Declan McCloskey just behind him while Shane O’Boyle and Paul Boyle at midfield were tireless.
Trailing by three at half time, the Shamrocks produced a stirring second half performance and took the lead with two minutes of the hour left but the Cuchullains responded like the champions they have been and are. Elliott with the last two scores of the match to seal an unprecedented fourth minor championship in a row for the Pearse Park boys.
As the crowd flocked into Páirc MacUílín, the Shamrocks made the perfect start. The replay was barely 60 second old when Loughgiel ful forward John Francis Connolly scored the first goal. The Loughgiel man taking advantage of the sliotar ricocheting back off the upright before finishing from point blank range.
It was the perfect start for the Shamrocks and when Rian McMullan added his first of three points over the hour in the fifth minute, Loughgiel had Dunloy on the back foot and pressing their advantage.
Elliott opened his and Dunloy’s account in the final when he split the posts from a ’65 in the seventh minute only for Michael McGarry to cancel out his score with the next attack. The Cuchullains were probing and pressing looking for a footing on the match and they got the break they were searching for in the ninth minute. Anton McGrath collecting the ball 60 yards from goal but his effort was dropping short. Eoghan McGrath, waiting on the edge of the square did enough to put the Shamrocks ‘keeper Kevin McAuley off and the sliotar managed to drop into the back of the net.
It was the break Dunloy needed and they took full advantage. A trio of unanswered points from Elliott (two) and Anthony Smith was answered to by a long range free from Odhran McMullan but the Cuchullains were beginning to look rampant. Another run of unanswered points, five this time, coming from the hurls of Elliott (free), Patrick Kinsella, Rory Mullan, Eoghan McGrath and Oisin McErlean opened a six point lead for the Cuchullains with eight minutes of the first half remaining.
Loughgiel were now looking for answers and it came in the 23rd minute. Putting the Cuchullains defence under incessant pressure, Dunloy creaked and the Shamrocks took advantage. Cathal Hargan with their second goal of the contest, rifling home from an acute angle.
Elliott responded with a free moments later but Loughgiel struck a further blow with four minutes remaining in the half. Odhran McMullan’s ’65 dropped short and the Cuchullains defence didn’t clear the danger. Connolly was on hand to strike his second and Loughgiel’s third goal of the match to reduce the Dunloy lead to the minimum.
The Cuchullains responded and finished the half well with Elliott landing a brace (one free) and Callum Scullion splitting the uprights before Hargan raised the white flag with the last action of the half to leave the half time score 1-13 to 3-4 in Dunloy’s favour.
Loughgiel started the second half on top but they couldn’t convert their dominance into scores on the board in the opening exchanges. Rian McMullan pointed a free two minutes after the restart but they were struggling to find their range with a trio of wides in as many minutes hurting the momentum they were looking to build.
Dunloy responded with Anton McGrath and Elliott (free) pointing in the eighth minute to thwart the Loughgiel charge but the Shamrocks were beginning to win the midfield exchanges and keep the pressure on the Dunloy defence just like they did two weeks previous.
Substitute Cormac McFadden landed a point with his first touch of the replay and while Elliott landed a ’65 in response, it was Dunloy’s last score for 12 minutes. Loughgiel turned the screw and in the same period landed four unanswered points from substitute Christy McGarry, Rian McMullan and two huge scores from Odhran McMullan.
Eleven minutes remaining and Loughgiel, just like two weeks previous, had all the momentum going into the business end of the hour. Callum Scullion split the posts for the second time in the match to stop the rot for the Cuchullains but two points in 60 seconds from midfielder Shane O’Boyle gave Loughgiel the lead for the first time since the 12th minute of the match with just two minutes remaining.
There was time to turn it around for the young Cuchullains, but it required cool heads and clear minds. Commeth the hour, commeth the man. Elliott, so brilliant all match landed the equalising score in the last minute of normal time before splitting the posts for his sixth free and 11th point overall to break the Shamrock hearts.
A simply outstanding match of championship hurling and although it’s a cliché, neither team deserved to lose. For Loughgiel, they retain many of this current squad for next season and Sunday’s final will stand by them. The Cuchullains production line of young talent continues to role, adding the hurling crown to the minor football title won seven days previous. A dual double for the second time in three years for the Cuchullains with Elliott, Eoin McMullan and Anton McGrath claiming a fourth hurling title and two football titles in their minor years.
Dunloy: Adam Mooney; Ciaran McQuillan, Aaron Crawford, Eoin McMullan; Callum Scullion, Ryan McGarry, Barry Scott; Anton McGrath, Oisin McErlean; Anthony Smith, Patrick Kinsella, Padraig McGilligan; Rory Mullan, Eoghan McGrath, Seaan Elliott.
Subs: Seán O’Neill for P McGilligan (40); Ryan McFarlane for A Smith (43); Conal Kelly for O McErlean (51)
Scorers: Seaan Elliott 0-11 (6 f’s 2 ‘65’s); Anton McGrath 1-1; Callum Scullion 0-2; Oisin McErlean 0-1; Anthony Smith 0-1; Eoghan McGrath 0-1; Patrick Kinsella 0-1; Rory Mullan 0-1
Loughgiel: Kevin McAuley; Conor Henry, Declan McCloskey, Enda Og McGarry; Ciaran McKay, Odhran McMullan, Tiarnan McAlonan; Shane O’Boyle, Paul Boyle; Conor Deery, Cathal Hargan, Michael McGarry; Rian McMullan, John-Francis Connolly, Odhran McGrath.
Subs: Cormac McFadden for C Deery (40); Christy McGarry for O McGrath (40).
Scorers: John-Francis Connolly 2-00; Cathal Hargan 1-1; Odhran McMullan 0-3 (2 f’s); Rian McMullan 0-3 (1f, 1’65); Shane O’Boyle 0-2; Michael McGarry 0-1; Cormac McFadden 0-1; Christy McGarry 0-1.