Dunloy, Ballymena

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Dunloy and Loughgiel to Go Again


Same teams. Same venue. See you in Ballycastle.

With the Dunloy bench ready to celebrate their fourth MHC in Ballycastle a fortnight ago, Odhran McMullan collected the sliotar and launched one last Hail Mary in the direction of the Cúchullain's posts. The umpire reached for the white flag, the hordes of yellow and green receded and Darren McKeown's final whistle signalled a replay.


A stalemate had looked increasingly unlikely at the beginning of the second half as the reigning champions held a five-point lead and looked to be in control of the game, despite the wides that would ultimately cost them the victory.


A Michael McGarry goal midway through the second half sparked the Shamrocks revival, and with Rían McMullan finding form from placed balls the Loughgiel lads soon found themselves on level terms.

The young Shamrocks take the field in Ballycastle two weeks' ago.

After a pulsating period in which both teams traded scores at will, it looked like substitute Eoghan McGrath had fired over the winning score, but the Shamrocks turned a Dunloy puck out and found captain Odhran McMullan in space to hit a dramatic injury-time equaliser and bring us back to Ballycastle on Sunday.


It made for compelling viewing, but in the post-match analysis, there will have been stern words from Tom McLean and his management team about the quality of shots, shooting that yielded fifteen wides the last day out.


The young Cúchullain's may have been suffering from over-confidence, victims of their own recent success, but Loughgiel came into the original game as underdogs and their performance will have lifted them and flooded their squad with self-belief for this replay.


In Odhran McMullan, they have a leader at centre-back who is more than capable of striding forward and picking off a score, as he showed in the drawn game. Rían McMullan failed to sparkle the last day, but his 0-05 tally was testament to his determination to get back on form and he will believe there is a big game in him tomorrow.

Loughgiel's captain and Man of the Match from the drawn game, Odhran McMullan.

Unlucky not to pick up the Man of the Match award, Michael McGarry hit the important goal a fortnight ago and will be hoping to pick up where he left off in the Shamrocks attack, while Declan McCloskey will be keen to patrol his square in a similar manner to that day.


Dunloy's attack is spearheaded by the supremely talented Seaan Elliott, who also had a quiet day by his own standards a fortnight ago. Fellow senior panellist Aaron Crawford provides solidity at full back, while captain Ryan McGarry leads from centre back in a similar manner to his opposite number. Eoghan McGrath was sprung from the bench last time and is likely to start this time round as the Cúchullain's go in search of their fourth title in a row.


They are also chasing a second Minor Hurling and Football double after their footballers, encompassing the majority of the hurling squad, saw off St Gall's in a hugely impressive performance in Ahoghill last weekend to claim the football title.


Loughgiel will come into the game buoyed by their performance last time and have the talent in their side to cause an upset on Sunday. The Cúchullain's however are unlikely to be as wasteful as they were a fortnight ago and having been held by their nearest rivals, they will be determined to go and get the job done at Páirc Mhic Uilín this time round.


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