Published on August 31st, 2016 | by admin0
Minor Football Championship Semi-Final
Dunloy 4-16 Sean Stinsons 0-12
A large crowd had gathered in Rasharkin for the semi-final of the Antrim Minor A football championship. Dunloy and Sean Stinson’s had already met once this year in a league fixture in Ahoghill with Dunloy coming out on top, but nothing can be taken for granted in championship and Anthony McQuillan had his team well prepared for a tougher assignment.
There was a strong breeze blowing up the Rasharkin pitch and when Jarlath O’Donnell threw up the ball Dunloy were playing with this on their side for the opening thirty minutes. Dunloy flew out of the traps and were 0-04 0-00 up after ten minutes with scores from Fergal Dillon, Eoin O’Neill and Seann Elliott along with a long distance free from Keelan Molloy.
The next ten minutes followed the same path with complete Dunloy domination between the breeze and the Dunloy half back line, nothing was getting up near Frankie Cochranes net. Scores from Dillon, Elliott and Molly had Dunloy up 0-07 – 0-00 with twenty minutes played.
After twenty-two minutes Stinsons got their first point of the game and they hoped that would settle them. It didn’t though and from the kick out Dunloy would get their first goal.
A fine Keelan Molloy ball into Eoin O’Neill who then released the on rushing Conal ‘Coby’ Doherty -Cunning and in that one on one situation with the keeper there was only ever going to be one winner as Coby fired the ball to the back of the net.
The next score of the game was a Stinsons point from a free before Molloy replied with three of his own- a free and two fine points from play. With only a few minutes of the first half left Dunloy led by 1-10 to 0-02. Dunloy knew this breeze would play a big part in the second half and needed a few more scores.
O’Neill added a fine point from play before the goal machine struck. After excellent work by Fergal Dillon on the right hand side his pass was perfect as O’Neill caught it perfectly and it flew into the roof of the net. Stinsons added another score with the last kick of the half. Dunloy had a fourteen-point lead at half time with a score line of 2-11 – 0-03.
Against the breeze the second half couldn’t have started any better for Dunloy. The Stinsons defence stood still as the vision of Cunning picked out a great run by Elliott who calmly slotted the ball past the Stinsons keeper and stretch Dunloy’s lead to seventeen on a score of 3-11 – 0-03 with a minute of the second half gone. Anyone at the game would have thought that was the game over but Stinsons had other ideas.
There was nine points scored in the next fifteen minutes and they were all from Stinsons bar a great point from near the side line from Molloy the gap was now well reduced with the score at 3-12 – 0-11. That fifteen-minute spell Stinsons gave it everything but when Molloy added two more points one from play and one from a free they knew the game was up.
They had battled hard to get back into the game but couldn’t get in near the Dunloy goal. The half back line wasn’t breached often but when it was there was no passing Lee Scott at full back. Stinsons added another point before Dunloy got their fourth goal.
With all players pushing up for Stinsons the gaps were starting to appear and when Ewan Dixon broke up an attack five passes later O’Neill was in and the net was rippling yet again. O’Neill and Coby added further points before the final whistle sounded. The joy was evident to see from all the Dunloy players and management they were through to the first Antrim minor football final in ten years.
Frankie Cochrane had a quiet 30mins as his defence didn’t let much through but his distribution was good whether it was short or long and even against the breeze he was getting it up the pitch a good distance.
Defensively Dunloy were as solid as they have ever been Anton McGrath and Ewan Dixon at corner back where out in front every time and stood tall in that fifteen-minute spell Stinsons came on in the second half. In the middle Lee Scott was immense. If he wasn’t using his pace to burst out with the ball he would wrestle or do what he had to do to keep Frankie Cochranes clean sheet intact.
Conor Kinsella and Chrissy McMahon time after time he came out with ball after breaking up a Stinsons attack and started a Dunloy one. Cathair McGuigan in the middle led by A captain’s example – when the going got tough he wasnt scared of a tackle and confident on the ball he was a rock at the heart of the Dunloy defence.
In midfield Matthew McCarte won kick outs and ran his socks off along with tackling back and bombing forward when he could a find all round display.
Attacking Dunloy have so much threat. Coby made runs all game that Stinsons couldn’t deal with set up numerous scores and got a few himself. The tracking back and hard work as well is consistent through the sixty minutes a great shift again from him. Liam McCann is a magician on the ball when he’s not winning balls against opponents twice his size, in some cases, he is threading passes to the full forward line and selling dummies to on rushing defenders. A tricky customer and a huge talent. Aaron Crawford who was keeper for most of the season but management decided that he was going outfield and weren’t they right he gallops up and down that pitch working his socks off for the team not scared to tackle and can also pick a pass, a great young player
In the Full Forward line Fergal Dillon won every ball that came his strength and pace is a nightmare for any fullback and with his height a high ball is no problem to him either he scored a few and set up plenty in an excellent hour’s work. Seaan Elliott terrorised the Stinsons defence from the first minute to the last always making runs pulling the corner back all over the place scored 1-02 was involved in so much more still u16 this young man has a bright future ahead of him.
With such a complete team performance to say anyone stood out would be unfair but the two players who scored 2-11 get a special mention. Eoin O’Neill was a constant threat throughout the hour and there is no better man to be in a one on one situation as Stinsons found out along with his strength to power away from their defence it was a devastating display from him. Constantly fouled and still managed to contribute 2-03 a fine induvial display. In Keelan Molloy Dunloy have one of if not the best minor footballer in the county. Scoring 0-08 points from midfield is only half the story of what he contributed to the Dunloy team. His defensive work is second to none and when Dunloy gets it tight he stands up to the plate and last night when Stinsons were in control in the second half he scored a free from the side line against the breeze than any senior footballer would be proud off an excellent hours work by the left footed star.
McQuillan and the rest of his back room team will be delighted with the display as from 1-15 everyone put in a shift. St Brigid’s up next in the final on Friday 23rd of September and maybe for the first time in thirty nine years a minor football championship could be back at Pearse Park.
The support the team has had has been fantastic and no doubt this will continue to the final in 3 weeks’ time
- Frankie Cochrane
- Anton McGrath
- Lee Scott
- Ewan Dixon
- Conor Kinsella
- Cathair McGuigan ©
- Chrissy McMahon
- Matthew McCarte
- Keelan Molloy
- Liam McCann
- Conal Cunning
- Aaron Crawford
- Eoin O’Neill
- Fergal Dillon
- Seaan Elliott