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Published on April 28th, 2016 | by admin


Div 1 Hurling Dunloy 1-14 Ballycastle 2-08

Dunloy 1-14 Ballycastle 2-8
Dunloy had to dig deep to secure a three point victory over Ballycastle in the Antrim hurling league.
A strong start and backed by a strong first half breeze Dunloy worked hard to keep a tight leash on the Castle dangermen of  Ciaran Clarke and Saul McCaughan and for much the first half the plan worked until a momentary lapse in concentration gave Ballycastle a foothold back in the game when they scored a goal right on the stroke of half time.
Dunloy couldn’t have asked for a better start as they opened the scoring in the 3rd minute after a brilliant hook on Matt Donnelly saw the ball spin into the path of Nicky McKeague and he pointed.
A free won by Ciaran Elliott as he raced away from his marker saw Dunloy double their lead to 0-2 as Nicky McKeague duly converted.
Ballycastle then pushed forward but were beaten back by a hook from Phelium Duffin was enough to take the sting from a Saul McCaughan shot and Ryan Elliott launched the ball upfield to safety.
Both defences now took control with Eoghan McAlonan James McLister and Conor Donnelly working hard as they combined to work the ball out of defence but Shane Dooey read the intended pass and intercepted the loose ball and was fouled.
Nicky McKeague then gave Dunloy a three point lead when he pointed and when Ryan McGarry tried a short poc out Dunloy again were quick to close down the ball and Kevin Molloy soloed through before firing over from close range.
Ballycastle were rattled and rushed the poc out and again it was intercepted by an alert Dunloy player and making it 0-5 to 0-0 Nicky McKeague picked off his 4th point of the afternoon.
Ballycastle were somewhat shellshocked by Dunloys quick start to the game and trailed by 0-5 and had yet to register even as much as a wide but all that changed in the 8th minute when they opened their account after a clearance was misplaced and Caolan McCaughan picked off the point.
Dunloy then created a 9th minute goal from nothing as Paudie Conlon broke up a promising Ballycastle attack and quickly passed the ball to Kevin McKeague. A quick look up saw him see Kevin Molloy in space and he passed and a series of handpasses ended with Chris Brogan supplying the ball to Ciaran Elliott who drilled it low to the net.
Cathal Connor had been working hard for Ballycastle breaking ball and finding space on the wings and in the 10th minute he picked off a long range point but from the poc out Dunloy applied the pressure on the Castle defender and Nigel Elliott picked off the point.
Ciaran Clarke had been well marshalled by the Dunloy defence and in the 12thminute he finally got the ball in space after some great work by full forward Neal McAuley and from an acute angle he picked off the point.
Both sides now missed a series of chances as Dunloy tried to shoot from distance but with a difficult breeze to measure they shot three wides while at the other end Ballycastle too counted their misses as they too sent wide a couple of bread and butter chances.
Scoring was resumed in the 18th minute as Dunloy turned defence into attack as Conlieth McCaughan tested Ryan Elliott and he saved with his butt and from Chris Kearns clearance the ball was worked to Kevin Molloy who pointed.
Dunloy now held a 1-8 to 0-3 lead with half time fast approaching but a momentary lapse in concentration saw the ball sent in long. The Dunloy defence appeared to have it covered but a mistimed lift saw it intercepted by Neal McAuley who immediately picked out Cathal Connor and his powerful groundshot entered the net to leave the half time score Dunloy 1-8 Ballycastle 1-3
Ballycastle now had the benefit of the breeze and made a couple of positional changes with Neal McAuley moving to him more pivotal spot around the half back line and he made an immediate impact winning the first three balls and delivering them to the corners. Ciaran Clarke forced a sideline cut from his opposite number and from 25yds he cut it beautifully over the bar.
Ballycastle again pressed forward but a quick clearance saw Dunloy hit back with Kevin Molloy again picked out by Karl O’Kane and from distance he fired over.
James McKeague then broke up a Castle attack and Dunloy again were to quick to play the ball into space and again Kevin Molloy won the race for possession but he was dumped to the ground by a heavy challenge from Matt Donnelly who was fortunate to escape with just the yellow.
From the resulting free in Nicky McKeague sent the ball over the bar but the game now became a series of niggles fouls time wasting and trickery.
John McLister in the 9th minute picked out Conlieth McCaughan and from inside his own half he sent the ball over the bar but again Dunloy were quick to exploit the pace in the attack and again drew the foul which Nicky McKeague sent over the bar to keep a 6 point gap between the sides.
Ballycastle were now to the fore as they found space around midfield and began to push forward with Eoghan McAlonan Neal McAuley and Ciaran Clarke pulling the strings for Ballycastle.
A 30yd free earned was sent over the bar from Ciaran Clarke after he had been tripped on his way through saw him send the ball over the bar and in the 21stminute Ciaran Clarke headed towards goals and looked to have sneaked a goal but the width of the post saved Dunloy.
From defence to attack Dunloy through Chris Kearns and Shane Dooey got the ball forward to Nicky McKeague who drew the free to now leave 0-6 between the sides.
With just over 4 minutes of normal time remaining Ballycastle won a 65yd free after Dunloy were caught in possession and from Neal McAuley expert delivery Saul McCaughan sent an overhead flick to the net and suddenly Ballycastle were right back in the game.
Again some clever play from Dunloy saw them draw the free from an all too eager Ballycastle defence and Nicky McKeague converted from 55yds out.
A late Ballycastle free in the 28th minute then saw Kevin Molloy hit back direct from the poc out and by the close of play with just under 4 minutes of injury time played the final score fell 1-14 to 2-8 in Dunloy favour.
How They Played
This was Dunloys best start to a league campaign for three years and Ballycastle were certainly no slouches on the day. Dunloy worked hard for the victory with a young experimental forward line gave their castle counterparts plenty to think about.
Ballycastle were slow to start and come the end of the game Dunloy were indeed grateful for the width of the post otherwise who knows just which way the game could have ended.
Both sides created chances but Dunloy were guilty of hitting more wides than their counterparts with a final tally of 9 compared to just 7 for Ballycastle. 
Overall an evenly balanced game in which the solid work Dunloy did at the start of the game was the catalyst for this victory.
For Dunloy their best came from Ryan Elliott in nets while infront of him Phelim Duffin Kevin McKeague and Chris Kearns were excellent getting in the tackles and winning back possession. James McKeague at full back controlled the game while at midfield Paudie Conlon and Shane Dooey had a great tussle with the Castle duo of Caolan McCaughan and Fergus Donnelly. Upfront Kevin Molloy was outstanding and his driving runs and ability to close down saw Ballycastle caught in possession. Nicky McKeague delivered an excellent performance and he was attuned to drawing the free on numerous occasions.  Ciaran Elliott again had a solid game but all to often a high ball was sent into him and his marker had the advantage of both height and weight over him.
For Ballycastle Ryan McGarry worked well as did his defence in which Conor Donnolly Eoghan McAlonan and James McShane did everything they could to keep the ball moving. Up front much depended on Ciaran Clarke and Saul McCaughan but both were well shackled by the Dunloy defence but did have some excellent moments. Also to shine was Cathal Connor who never gave up the chase for the ball and was on hand to strike his sides first goal.
Dunloy Nicky McKeague 0-9, Kevin Molloy 0-4, Ciaran Elliott 1-0, Nigel Elliott 0-1.
Ballycastle Ciaran Clarke 0-5, Cathal Connor 1-1, Saul McCaughan 1-0, Caolan McCaughan 0-1 Conleith McCaughan 0-1
Dunloy R Elliott, P Duffin, J McKeague, O Quinn, K O’Kane, K McKeague, C Kearns, P Conlon, S Dooey, C Brogan, K Molloy, N Elliott, N McKeague, A Dooey, C Elliott. Sub M Murphy for C Elliott.
Ballycastle R McGarry, C Donnelly, M Donnelly, D Donnelly, E McAlonan, J McShane, J McLister, C McCaughan, F Donnelly, C Connor, C McCaughan, C McGarry, N McAuley S McCaughan.
Referee B McCotter Sarsfields 
Report by Marianne McNeill

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