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Ballycran 2-11 Dunloy 2-16

By Micheal McGeary

Two goals in a blistering four- minute spell put Dunloy well on their way to a 10nth Ulster senior championship success at Casement Park yesterday.

It was a day when Dunloy’s old guard came through with flying colours none more so than 39-year-old Gregory O’Kane.

A Ballycran goal two minutes into added time in the first half threatened only briefly to derail Dunloy’s onward march to a 10th title.

For on the restart Dunloy’s much greater experience proved decisive and there was none of the wastefulness that was such a feature of their play in the opening half.

At the end O’Kane was able to reflect on a job well while at the same time paying tribute to Ballycran’s contribution.

“It’s a great for all the players and for the Dunloy club,” he said.

“Half-time gave us an opportunity to regroup and reflect on where things had been going wrong.

“Credit though to Ballycran. They hung in there in the first half and got the goal at the best possible time.

“They are a great example to all clubs in that they are developing players.”

Next up for the winners is an All Ireland club semi-final in the new year but for now O’Kane and the Dunloy club are happy just to savour this most recent success.

They collected the crown for the first time in 1990 and yesterday regained the silverware after failing to win their county title last season.

Ballycran, with only three titles to their credit, are still waiting since 1993 for their fourth.

Two second-half goals by Paddy Richmond made all the difference in this game that never rose above the mediocre .

The free-taking of Simon Wilson really kept Ballycran in the game as he notched up 1-6.

Ballycran will be hugely disappointed at this setback, but on the day too many of their more established big name players didn’t perform and the absence of both Brendan McGourty and Michael Braniff from the starting line up was a massive blow.

The game’s opening quarter was a story of Ballycran under serious pressure and holding on desperately only their opponent’s wastefulness allowing them to stay in contention.

But on finding themselves five points in arrears within sight of half time they rallied. Point from Simon Wilson (2) and Conor Arthurs cutting the deficit to four points before Aidan Clarke stunned Dunloy with an opportunist goal.

Dunloy’s half time lead 0-8 to I-4 was quickly wiped out on the restart, points from Wilson and Arthurs levelling the match .

Sensing the danger the winners hit points from Sean Dowd(2) and veteran Alastair Elliot to regain the lead before Paddy Richmond swooped for the first of two Dunloy goal after a long range free from Gareth Ghee. Sean Dowd added another and sandwiched in between was a Ballycran goal from Simon Wilson.

In a matter of minutes the game had shifted dramatically in Dunloy’s favour six points clear with six minutes remaining.

By the finish Ballycran had cut the deficit to five, but that was no consolation as another Ulster title slipped agonisingly from their grasp.

Dunloy: G McGhee (0-2f); M McClements, J McKeague, Cathaior Cunning; K Martin, C McKinley; K Molloy; Colum Cunning, P Doherty; S Dowds (0-5f), L Richmond (0-3), G O’Kane (0-4); A Elliott (0-1f), P Richmond (2-1), D Quinn. Subs: C Brogan for A Elliott, D Kelly for P Doherty

Ballycran: D Ennis; M Hughes, P Flynn, P Keith (0-1); M Ennis, P Hughes, S Ennis; G Gordon, A Bell; S Wilson (1-6f), G Savage, J Coyle (0-1); C Woods (0-1), C Arthurs (0-1), A Clarke (1-0)

Subs: B Ennis for A Clarke, M Braniff (0-1) for G Savage

Referee: G Devlin (Armagh)

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