Dunloy and Ballycastle must meet again to decide title

Ballycastle centre-back Patrick Bonar breaks from defence with the ball during Saturday's North Antrim Feile final in Dunloy. INBM 20-770CS
Ballycastle centre-back Patrick Bonar breaks from defence with the ball during Saturday's North Antrim Feile final in Dunloy. INBM 20-770CS

North Antrim Feile na nGael Final

Dunloy 3-9 Ballycastle 2-12 (AET)

The young hurlers of Dunloy and Ballycastle served up a real thriller in Saturday’s North Antrim Feile na nGael final at Pearse Park Dunloy.

Two evenly matched teams could not be separated, even after fifteen minutes extra time and must meet again to decide who qualifies for the county final.

Dunloy got off to a great start with a goal in the opening minute from their first-half hero Keelan Molloy who fired in the first of his three goals from thirteen metres.

Back came Ballycatle and a goal from a twenty metre free from their star performer Dairmuid McShane had them level, and the midfielder added two points from play to put Ballycastle two clear.

Back came Dunloy and points from Conal Cunning and Caoilin McCurry, plus goal number two from Keelan Molloy put them back in charge, but Ciaran McKeague and Dairmuid McShane hit back with points to square the game again.

A Conal Cunning point from a free edged Dunloy back in front and though Oran Kearney fired in a goal at the other end for Ballycastle Molly struck a brilliant third goal and Cunning added a point to give the young Cuchullains a 3-5 to 2-5 lead.

Molloy increased the home side’s lead to four with a point just after the restart, but Ballycastle moved their rangey centre-back Patrick Bonar back to mark Molly and for the remainder of the game he held him scoreless.

Slowly but surely Ballycatle began to edge back into the game and after McShane had been denied a goal by a brilliant save from Dunloy goalkeeper Christopher McMahon they tagged on four unanswered points to tie the scores with five minutes left for play.

Dunloy centre-back Eamon Smyth struck a great point from a free to edge his side back in front before McShane levelled matters with a point from a free with just two minutes left to play.

When Aaron McCaughan pointed Ballycastle ahead with time almost up the black and amber fans must have felt they had done enough, but a brilliantly taken score from Dunloy corner-forward Ronan Molloy in injury time brought a thrilling game to extra time.

The sides were still level at the end of the first half of extra time as Ronan Molly and Eoin O’Neill added points for Dunloy to cancel out two by Dairmuid McShane and though both teams had chances in the second period neither could add to their tally and so they must meet again to decide the outcome.

DUNLOY – Christopher McMahon, Euan Dixon, Lee Scott, Conor Kinsella, Caoilin McCurry, Eamon Smyth, Daire Patterson, Ciaran McKendry, Conal Cunning, Liam McCann, Eoin O’Neill, Aaron Crawford, Ronan Molloy, Keelan Molloy, Anton McGrath.

BALLYCASTLE – Caolin McNamara, Tony McGarry, Conor Boyd, Conor Butler, Ronan Donnelly, Patrick Bonar, Colm McCook, Dairmuid McShane, Peter McGarry, Aaron McCaughan, Charlie McHenry, Oran Kearney, Conor Colgan, Eoin McCaughan, Ciaran McKeague.