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Dunloy's joy as painful wait finally ends with commanding victory

Antrim SHC final: Dunloy 2-15 Cushendall 2-9

By David Mohan

A storming second half display saw Dunloy bridge an eight year gap as they claimed the Antrim Senior Hurling Championship title at the expense of Cushendall in Ballycastle yesterday.

The Cuchullians bagged two goals in a minute midway through the second half to take a firm grip as Cushendall lost their way.

It was a coming of age performance from this Dunloy side who looked nervy in the opening 30 minutes, but delivered after the break to add the senior title to the minor they won earlier in the day.

It certainly didn't seem like this was going to be their day at the break as they trailed by 0-7 to 0-4 after a disappointing first period of the game.

They actually opened quite well with Paul Shiels converting a free and Eoin O'Neill then splitting the posts from out on the left.

Cushendall responded with Neil McManus pointing a free and Paddy McGill taking a good score.

Shiels restored the Dunloy advantage on 16 minutes, but McManus levelled and then Fergus McCambrige pointed twice in quick succession.

The second half was in stark contrast as the introduction of Nicky McKeague paid immediate dividends for Dunloy as suddenly they looked much more fluid in attack.

Shiels converted a couple of placed balls and the momentum was Dunloy's - and soon the goals arrived.

First, Conal Cunning took down Elliott's dropping shot, rounded Ryan McCambridge and, while his shot was half stopped, the ball had enough behind it to continue to the net.

A minute later and a fine diagonal ball in from Nicky McKeague found Cunning who popped the pass to Nigel Elliott to crack home a second major.

Cushendall's cause was to receive a further blow as, off the ball as the second goal went in, Dunloy's Conor McKinley was sprawled out and after consulting with his umpires, referee Mark O'Neill flashed red at Neil McManus.

Cushendall kept battling with Conor Carson and Paddy Burke grabbing late majors, but they were mere consolation.

Cushendall: E Gillan; R McCambridge, M Burke, S Delargy; A Graffin, P Burke (1-0), D Kearney; E Campbell (0-1), F McCambridge (0-2); A McNaughton, N McManus (0-3 frees), D McNaughton; C Carson (1-2), S McAfee, P McGill (0-1). Subs: C McClafferty for D McNaughton (HT), R Delargy for E Campbell (48), E McKillop for S McAfee (48), Ryan Delargy for P McGill (53).

Dunloy: R Elliott; P Duffin, J McKeague, O Quinn; K McKeague, C McKinley, K Molloy; C Elliott, P Shiels (0-7, 6 frees, 1 65); N Elliott (1-2), G McTaggart, K Molloy (0-2); E O'Neill (0-1), C Brogan, C Cunning (1-1). Subs: E Smyth for O Quinn (15), N McKeague (0-1 free) for C Brogan (HT), A Dooey (0-1) for G McTaggart (53), M Murphy for C Elliott (60)

Referee: M O'Neill (Armoy).

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