Antrim SHC Final: Dunloy finish strongly
Antrim Senior Hurling Championship Final
DUNLOY 3-16 RUAIRÍ ÓG CUSHENDALL 2-15
By David Mohan at Ballycastle
Two late goals from Seaan Elliott settled a thrilling Antrim Senior Hurling Championship final at Ballycastle as Dunloy dethroned holders, Cushedall to claim their second title in three years.
Elliott missed out on a place in the starting line-up despite having been named in the first 15 prior to the game and he proved his point as he buried both of his chances in what was a dramatic finish to this game.
Conal Cunning top-scored for the winners with nine points - seven from frees - while Neil McManus landed one more for Cushendall whose luck was out in the closing stages as they saw a shot cannon off the post and then had another goal ruled out for a square ball.
Still, Dunloy were probably the better side as they got their tactics right by playing low ball into their flying forwards who put something of an off-colour opening half behind them when they hit 10 wides to break for home down the stretch.
Dunloy did open this game brighter with Nicky McKeague, Keelan Molloy, Nigel Elliott and Cunning all on target early, while McManus led the way for Cushendall with three early scores at Dunloy led 0-4 to 0-3.
The pendulum was then to swing Cushendall's way on 15 minutes as they got the game's first goal rather fortuitously when Fergus McCambridge's shot for a point dropped short that Dunloy goalkeeper Ryan Elliott failed to control as the ball ended up in the net.
McManus tagged on a couple of pointed frees as Dunloy struggled with their shooting at the at the other end, but Eoin O'Neill did settle them when weaving through traffic to score.
McCambridge hit back immediately, but three Cunning points got Dunloy to within one as half-time loomed, but these scores were wiped out by Eoghan Campbell, Alex Delargy and McManus as it appeared Cushendall would take a healthy lead into the break.
That wasn't the case as with the final act of the opening half, Dunloy launched one last attack with Nigel Elliott getting in behind the Cushendall defence to gather a long delivery to race in and find the net to leave Cushendall just one ahead at the break - 1-9 to 1-8.
The teams were to go score-for-score after the break before Paul Shiels fired over from the right to level matters at 1-12 on 42 minutes before Cunning edged Dunloy back in front from a free.
Cushendall managed to get back in front thanks to McManus and Paddy McGill, but back came Dunloy with Keelan Molloy and Cunning points to lead by one with two to play.
Cushendall were in search of the equaliser, but from a breakaway, Gabriel McTaggart played a low ball into Seaan Elliott who turned Fred McCurry and raced through to find the net.
McManus tapped over a free to leave that goal between them, but Elliott wasn't finished and when Nigel Elliott hand-passed across the face of goal, he gathered possession at the second attempt and made that bit of space he needed when being held up to bat home.
Cushendall weren't for giving up and McGill saw his overhead pull crash off the post before Dom Delargy has a goal ruled out for a square ball. They did manage to pull a goal back after Nigel Elliott pointed at the other end through Christy McNaughton who swept home a rebound from a McGill shot that was saved, but this was mere consolation as Dunloy saw out the closing seconds to claim the Volunteer Cup for the 13th time.
Scorers for Dunloy: Conal Cunning 0-9 (7fs), Seaan Elliott 2-0; Nigel Elliott 1-2, Keelan Molloy 0-2, Nicky McKeague 0-1, Eoin O'Neill 0-1, Paul Shiels 0-1.
Scorers for Cushendall: Neil McManus 0-10 (8fs), Fergus McCambridge 1-1, Christy McNaughton 1-0, Alex Delargy 0-1, Paddy McGill 0-1, Eoghan Campbell 0-1, Niall McCormick 0-1.
DUNLOY: Ryan Elliott; Phelim Duffin, Conor McKinley, Aaron Crawford; Eamon Smyth, Kevin McKeague, Ryan McGarry; Paul Shiels, Ronan Molloy; Keelan Molloy, Chrissy Brogan, Nigel Elliott; Eoin O'Neil, Conal Cunning, Nicky McKeague.
Subs: Conor Kinsella for Aaron Crawford (34), Seaan Elliott for Nicky McKeague (40), Shane Dooey for Chrissy Brogan (52), Gabriel McTaggart for Ronan Molly (56).
CUSHENDALL: Conor McAllister; Martin Burke, Paddy Burke, Sean Delargy; Arron Graffin, Eoghan Campbell, Fred McCurry; Stephen Walsh, Scott Walsh; Neil McManus, Niall McCormick, Ryan McCambridge; Fergus McCambridge, Paddy McGill, Alex Delargy.
Subs: Donal McNaughton for Scott Walsh (41), Christy McNaughton for Sean Delargy (49), Eunan McKillop for Arron Graffin, Dom Delargy for Fergus McCambridge (60).
REFEREE: Colm McDonald (St Gall's).