Dunloy aiming for a 'double' to round off season
Larkin Cassidy Solicitors Antrim Intermediate football final: Dunloy v Moneyglas (tomorrow, Dunsilly, 4pm)
THE insatiable pursuit of excellence continues at Cuchullian’s, Dunloy.
After claiming back-to-back senior championship titles in hurling last weekend, the footballers are aiming to make it a cool ‘double’ in tomorrow’s Antrim Intermediate football championship decider against Moneyglass (Dunsilly 4pm).
Cuchullain’s football manager Anthony McQuillan will be able to call upon a host of their hurling stars including Keelan Molloy, Conal Cunning, Seann Elliott, Aaron Crawford, Conor Kinsella and Ryan McGarry.
In total, Dunloy have 18 dual players at senior level.
The condensed championship format has undoubtedly been a tough ask, particularly on dual clubs like Dunloy – but McQuillan will be hoping the feel-good factor from last weekend’s brilliant win over Loughgiel Shamrocks can carry into tomorrow’s football final against Moneyglass, who were the only team to beat the Cuchullain’s in the group stages of this year’s intermediate championship.
“After the boys won the senior hurling championship on Sunday everyone was encouraging the dual players to go on and try and do the ‘double’, get yourselves playing senior football, win your intermediate championship,” said McQuillan, now in his second year as manager.
“The club wants to be a dual club at senior level just like St John’s, Rossa, St Gall’s and St Enda’s.”
The club’s last intermediate success in football was back in 2007 before things sagged for a time at the club.
“We were in Division Three five years ago and we were struggling to field teams,” McQuillan said, who previously assisted Dominic Dillon and his brother Kevin at the club.
“We’d a couple of good minor teams where we won the 2016 and 2018 minor championships and we reached U21 ‘A’ and ‘B’ finals, so we started to compete in county finals.”
Few observers would argue that the two best teams at intermediate level have qualified for this year’s decider.
McQuillan is certainly in doubt that Moneyglass have been the best his young footballers have faced.
Given their blinding pace, it’s not surprise the likes of Keelan Molloy, Seann Elliott and Conal Cunning also double up as forwards in football.
McQuillan feels Molloy’s strongest code might well be the big ball despite his exceptional displays for both club and county in hurling over the last 18 months.
“I worked with those lads at underage level and I’ve always said if Keelan was left alone he’d be better at the football than he is at the hurling – and that’s a statement. He’s just a superb athlete and he’s still growing.”
After the hurlers’ epic semi-final win over Rossa, the footballers were out two days later and defeated All Saints of Ballymena to clinch their final place.
“The time-scale between games for the dual players has been tough,” McQuillan acknowledged.
“The non-dual players would have had enough rest between games, that’s not a problem. But the dual players were playing two times per week, sometimes three times per week.
“They had two semi-finals [in hurling and football] in three days and that was harsh on them – and now five days after that they were in a county final as well.”
On tomorrow’s opponents, McQuillan added: “Moneyglass beat us by a couple of points in Moneyglass. They are without doubt the best team we’ve played in this championship.”