Dunloy embrace the breeze to defend Antrim SHC title
Greg O’Kane’s side have too much for rivals Loughgiel as they win a third in four years
Dunloy captain Paul Shiels celebrates his side’s Antrim SHC final win. Photograph: Dylan McIlwaine/Inpho
Dunloy 2-20 Loughgiel 2-13
Despite having half a dozen dual players involved in an Intermediate football Championship game on Tuesday night, Dunloy’s freshness and conditioning showed in a typically bruising Antrim final as they successfully defended the Volunteer Cup against old rivals Loughgiel.
With a gale blowing out towards the coast and Rathlin Island beyond, Dunloy won the toss and opted to defend the wind. Manager Greg O’Kane reasoned that they had the pace and youth to work through the lines and carry the ball into the wind.
It worked beautifully as they went into half-time level, 1-7 to 0-10. Their goal came as the break approached when a sideline cut from Sean Elliott made it to Kevin Molloy. His effort was parried initially, but Eoin O’Neill was on hand to tap home.
With the players being urged to squeeze up when they had the breeze, they racked up eight points to Loughgiel’s two in the third quarter. With Paul Shiels dropping back and his first touch making him the ideal conductor, they hurt Loughgiel with the athleticism of Seann Elliott and Keelan Molloy prevalent.
A second goal arrived to put them 10 points up when Kevin Molloy latched onto a loose ball and despite a desperate lunge from Tiernan Coyle, he was able to round goalkeeper Chrissy O’Connell to tap home.
Loughgiel were to add two late goals from Liam Watson and substitute Benny McCarry, but Greg O’Kane’s side capped a remarkable and strange season by taking the trophy known as ‘Old Big Ears’ in these parts, home with them.
Dunloy: R Elliott; P Duffy, A Crawford, C Kinsella; R Molloy, C McKinley, R McGarry; P Shiels (0-1, free), N McKeague; S Elliott (0-2), Kevin Molloy (1-2), Keelan Molloy (0-5); C Cunning (0-8, six frees), G McTaggart, E O’Neill (1-2). Subs: E Smyth for McKeague (51 min), C McMahon for McTaggart (56m), Kevin McKeague for Crawford (63m).
Loughgiel: C O’Connell; T Coyle, N McGarry, S Dobbin; Declan McCloskey, D McMullan, T McCloskey; D McKinley (0-3), Daniel McCloskey; J McNaughton (0-4, four frees), C McKendry, E McCloskey (0-1); S McGrath (0-1), L Watson (1-3, 1-0 free, one sideline cut), S Casey (0-1). Subs: B McCarry (1-0) for McKendry (40 min), R McKee for Casey (40), O McFadden for T McCloskey (55m).
Referee: Darren McKeown (St Gall’s)