Dunloy (@1.57) vs Cushendall (@2.75)
29-09-2019

Our Prediction:

Dunloy will win

Dunloy – Cushendall Match Prediction | 29-09-2019 10:00

Cushendall were creatingspace in the full forward line for Alex Delargy to work out of and they weregetting the delivery perfect in those early stages with he and Paddy McGillcausing the St Johns defence huge problems.The city men halved the four point deficit with Shea Shannon and PeterMcCallin finding the required accuracy but Cushendall underlined theirdominance with their second goal.Intercepting a poor poc out, McGill collected and drove low. Doherty got something on the sliotar but thepower of McGills drive took the ball over the line, just, in the 23rdminute. A poor goal for the Johnnies toconcede and when Alex Delargy and McManus (free) pointed to open an eight pointlead with five minutes of the first half hour to play, Cushendall were well inthe ascendancy.

On a day when the Ruairis were supposed to cement their place as kings of Antrim, the Cuchullains proved there was life in the old pup. Three first half goals from Paddy Richmond and Darren Quinn, either side of a penalty from Gareth McGhee helped the Cuchullains to a strong half time position and one they would maintain until the final whistle. Indeed, it was McGhees performance that could be seen as the difference between the sides. The Cuchullains netminder was at his enigmatic yet brilliant best on the day, denying McManus and Shane McNaughton from point blank range in the first ten minutes of the game while scoring 1-1 himself. Sometimes, you know its not going to be your day and the Ruairis would have been forgiven for thinking the same back in 2009. Twice they rattled the woodwork with McManus and Conor McCambridge denied by the woodwork but lady luck shone done on the men in green and gold on that occasion. A late McManus goal gave the score line a fairer reflection as the Cuchullains ran out 3-14 to 1-13 winners.

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St Johns werent at the races and two early goals fromDelargy and McGill gave the Ruairis the upper hand. It took them a while to settle but theCorrigan Park side improved immeasurably as the half progressed. Padraig Nugents frees, the brilliant SheaShannon and Ciaran Johnston beginning to stamp his authority on the pitch, theyreeled the Johnnies in.

They took the lead momentslater, Nugents 12th of the match before another huge point fromNatty McNaughton restored parity and steadied the shaking Cushendall ship. St Johns retook the lead with an outrageouspointed sideline from Shannon, at least 50 yards from goal and it felt like itdeserved to be the winning score such was the quality of the strike. Cushendall showed their undying fight andresilience at the death however. AlexDelargy splitting the posts as the match ebbed into injury time. Nugent edged the Johnnies back in front inthe fourth minute of additional time but the Ruairis fought back onceagain. Fergus McCambridge collecting thesliotar from a ruck and racing towards goal, his shot was initially waved wideby the umpire but after deliberation, referee Cunning overruled and awarded thepoint with what was the last action of the game.

Dunloy: R Elliott; P Duffin, J McKeague, O Quinn; K McKeague, C McKinley, K Molloy; C Elliott, P Shiels (0-7, 6f, 0-1 65); N Elliott (1-1), G McTaggart, K Molloy (0-2); E ONeill (0-2), C Brogan, C Cunning (1-1).

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Both sides will have leftBallycastle feeling like they could have won this one, Shea Shannon pointingfrom a sideline deep in injury time before the brilliant Alex Delargyequalised. Yet there was still time formore drama. Padraig Nugent pointed froma 65 in the fourth minute of the allotted time but Cushendall had one lastchance. Fergus McCambridge broke theshackles of the St Johns defence for one of the only times in the match andsqueezed a shot away at the target.

The first came from the unlikeliest of sources when PaddyBurke made a break up the Pearse Park pitch.His effort was saved by Simon Doherty but Alex Delargy was in the rightplace at the right time to send the sliotar to the back of the net. Michael Dudley split the posts with aninstant reply for the Johnnies but Cushendall wrestled the momentum and theirgrasp on the semi-final with their third goal.McAllisters long poc out eventually collected by Alex Delargy and onceagain Doherty saved the initial shot and again a Cushendall man found therebound. This time it was FergusMcCambridge who raised the green flag and Cushendall had turned a four pointhalf time deficit into a two point lead inside nine minutes.

Half time gave the Ruairis achance to reorganise and while Nugent resumed his accuracy from frees to reducethe Cushendall lead to just two, the reigning champions looked more fluent inthose opening exchanges. Alex Delargyshowing his sharpness by scoring his sides opening point of the second half andtaking his tally to 1-2 but neither side was in the ascendancy. Shannon and Domhnall Nugent fired over for StJohns by the 43rd minute before a quite brilliant point from wideon the right with his first touch since coming on, Natty McNaughton opened atwo point lead before McManus took his tally to eight for the match with whatconspired to be Cushendalls only score from a free in the second half.

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1990 started a golden era for the Cuchullains although they are currently in their longest drought since their maiden victory. 2012 was the last time the green and gold army left the village for a county final, the last to be played at Casement Park while the Ruairis have been the one constant for a decade and more. The Cuchullains have gone through a transitional phase. A clich I dont normally like using but a phase that was always going to come while the Ruairis have gone from strength to strength. Sunday will see them contesting their ninth final of the last ten years, 11 of the last 13. A record to match that from any era of Antrim hurling.

Every team needs a goal poacher, Dunloy relied on Alister Elliott while Cushendall had Alister McGuile when the chips were down. Many people would tell you that the Dunloy team of the 1990s were the best team to never have won The Tommy Moore Cup however what many forget was that during that decade Cushendall claimed just as many Antrim titles, five apiece. There have been few finer centre half backs since Gary O Kane and Leonard McKeegans time. To complete those lines you had Cushendalls James McNaughton and Dunloys Sean Mullan, two men that very few forwards got any change from. There were few better than Gregory O Kane and Conor McCambridge. Marquee forwards and dead ball specialists? The men at centre back for each team were small in stature but giants in terms of skill and ability. Cushendall were every bit as good as Dunloy were during that time with both teams almost carbon copies of each other. Both had tremendous half back lines, with cult hero wing backs in Cushendalls Terence "Sambo McNaughton and Dunloys Seamus "Mushy McMullan. Swashbuckling midfielders? Although there were superb hurlers littered throughout both squads, not just at half back. Read Mark McCambridge and Colm McGuckian. How about Aidan McAteer and Dominic McMullan? Old school, no nonsense full backs?

Cushendall: E Gillan; R McCambridge, M Burke, S Delargy; A Graffin, P Burke (1-0), D Kearney; E Campbell (0-1), A McNaughton; C Carson (1-2), N McManus (0-3f), D McNaughton; F McCambridge (0-2), S McAfee, P McGill (0-1).

Dj vu as Ruairis break St Johns hearts to book final date with Dunloy

*The tickets will be raffled as a pair. ALL IRELAND FOOTBALL TICKETSRuair g have 2 All Ireland football tickets up for grabs! We will be asking all memebers who are interested in purchasing these tickets to please give your name to Martin Magee, or call into the butchers before 6pm on Tues 12th to put your name into the draw. ...

The history books will show that it was Cushendall who claimed victory and in doing so stopped hot favourites Dunloy claiming three titles in a row. In the game itself Cushendall got off to a dream start with an early goal but Dunloy never panicked and entering the final ten minutes or so they had built up a five point lead. The Dall however were not going to give up and in an amazing closing period they hit two goals from Jackie Carson and Sambo along with a point from substitute Brian McNaughton to wrestle victory from the jaws of defeat. In a decade dominated by both teams it was amazing that their first final meeting came in the decades final year.