Dunloy, Ballymena

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St Ergnat’s Meet Cúchullain’s in South West Derby

LOCC Solicitors Antrim IFC

Cúchullain’s Dunloy v St Ergnat’s Moneyglass

Páirc Uí Chatháin, Portglenone

Saturday 24th August @ 7:00pm

Referee – Karol Doherty (St Mary's Rasharkin)

Saturday’s main event in the Antrim IFC sees South West Antrim Division 2 rivals Dunloy and Moneyglass pitted together at O’Cahan Park in Portglenone.

The venue and the teams involved, with Rasharkin and Randalstown facing off beforehand, evoke memories of full-blooded local encounters in which the combatants were on first-name terms, if not in a jovial sense.

Dunloy’s recent minor successes in 2016 and 2018 have flooded into the senior ranks and their fortunes are on the rise. The Cúchullain’s finished the 2019 Division 2 league in 4th place, having been in promotion contention for much of the season.

The strong league campaign came on the back of a run to the final of the U21 Championship, where a team backboned by the rapid Keelan Molloy

finished runners-up to St Brigid’s of Belfast.

Moneyglass had a tough season in 2018 where they struggled in the second half of the league, but a strong showing in the IFC was followed by an excellent Division 2 term in 2019.

St Ergnat’s narrowly finished runners-up to a rampant Rossa side and will meet further South West opposition in the promotion play-off when they face Ahoghill.

Both sides have managed 22 goals in this season’s league, but Moneyglass lead the way for points scored, with 222 to Dunloy’s 182. They also hold the upper hand in terms of scores conceded with just 215 to Cúchullain’s 286.

Colum Duffin picked up the Man of the Match award when we covered last year’s clash against Tír na nÓg and has a keen eye for a score. Conaill Prenter also carries a scoring threat while Seanchann Duffin is a ball-winner around the middle.

Kevin Marron was sprung from the bench to turn that game in Creggan last year and his experience is invaluable in the white heat of championship battle, while Dermot McErlain’s pace causes problems for opposition defences.

Often dictated to by the hurling schedule, Dunloy’s personnel predictably fluctuates throughout the year, but with the Cúchullain’s safely into the SHC Semi-Finals there should be a full complement available.

Keelan Molloy, Nigel Elliott and Conal Cunning’s pace and skill has the potential to tie a defence in knots, while the experience of Declan McGarry adds guile to the attack.

The versatile Chrissy McMahon has popped up in both attack and defence, while the solid Anton McGrath, Aaron Crawford and Callum Scullion have graduated into the ranks from last year’s minor team.

This game has all the ingredients required to be a rip-roaring throwback to blood and thunder championship action. Two local rivals whose stock is on the rise and who have spent the season jostling for position near the top of the league.

Don’t rule out a draw.