Dunloy co-manager Shane Elliott believes the strength-in-depth in the Antrim champions’ squad saw them over the line in yesterday’s Ulster senior club hurling final against Ballycran.
Elliott, along with Gary O’Kane and Jarlath Cunning, guided Dunloy to their 10th provincial title yesterday at Casement Park, The 2-16 to 2-11 win over the Ards men preserves the club’s record of never having lost an Ulster final.
Just one point separated the teams at the break when, despite Aidan Clarke’s goal, Ballycran trailed 1-4 to 0-8. But two second half goals from Paddy Richmond ensured that Dunloy would be spending another winter preparing for a crack at the All Ireland title.
“We were playing without four first team hurlers, and there’s not many teams who could do that. We have a lot of confidence in the squad and we proved today we have a squad that can overcome a number of players missing and still produce the goods,” said Elliott.
“We knew we were going to get it tight, we knew Ballycran weren’t going to roll over and let us win it, and we got exactly what we expected.”
It’s been an amazing year for the Cuchulainns, winning the Feis Cup, Antrim and Ulster championships and they look set to clinch the Antrim League title within the next few weeks.
“We’ve been confident all year in our own performances. Other people have maybe been critical of the way we’ve played but we always had belief in our own ability and I think that showed,” Elliott said.
“With the hurling we did in the first half we were very disappointed to go in just one point up, that wasn’t really a reflection of the game, but we weathered the storm and in the last 10 or 15 minutes I expected us to come strong and that’s the way it turned out.”
Ballycran joint manager Eamon Blaney paid tribute to his side who trailed by just three points after 53 minutes when Simon Wilson’s free sailed straight into the Dunloy net.
However, a minute later, Richmond touched home a sideline cut from Sean Dowds for a 2-14 to 2-8 lead.
“Sport is cruel, there’s winners and there’s losers. We are incredibly proud of our players, they put a hell of a lot of effort in but they didn’t get the rub of the green today,” Blaney said.
“We thought we could come here and win it and we’re gutted for the boys in the dressing room. We didn’t come out of the blocks the way we thought we would in the second half.
“But we’re proud to be associated with such a dedicated bunch of players.”