St John's rue ruled out 'goal' as Dunloy's Antrim SHC reign continues
Antrim SHC semi-final: Dunloy 1-19 St John's 0-13
DUNLOY may have been 'on cloud nine' after winning through to a third consecutive Antrim SHC Final but the St John's mood was obviously much more gloomy.
The Belfast club were unhappy beforehand about the appointment of referee Kevin Parke - and even more unhappy afterwards, in particular because of his decision to rule out a goal from big Domhnall Nugent.
Had that 48th minute effort stood the men in blue would have trailed by the minimum margin, 0-15 to 1-11, despite playing from the second minute with only 14 men after the sending-off of defender Ciaran Johnston.
However, after consulting with umpires, the ref disallowed that score and the champs pulled away, going on to net a great goal themselves from Keelan Molloy.
Johnnies manager Brian McFall had no complaints about the red card, but had to censor himself concerning Nugent's 'goal':
"I don't want to say too much, I don't want to get myself in bother, but some of the decisions I couldn't fathom with that referee…
"I just cannot explain the turning point of that game - we got a goal and he didn't give it. I can't understand it… I would love to know why. That was a crucial part of the game, we were coming back into it.
"We kept Dunloy within a puc of the ball and that goal could have kicked us on, but then they went and got a goal. Dunloy are a great side and they kicked on."
The final scoreline certain didn't reflect the efforts of the men in blue, which were applauded by McFall: "Big moments went against us. We're at the semi-final stage again, still haven't got over the hurdle. Losing a man two minutes in, we were on the back foot - but I couldn't fault our lads in those conditions, they gave everything they could."
Dunloy boss Gregory O'Kane acknowledged that their opponents gave the reigning champions a very difficult day, even with a man short:
"Probably the best time to lose a man is early on and, in fairness to St John's, they dealt with our spare man quite well. We were finding it hard to get him on the ball. They put us under severe pressure in the first half. They're a super team with some super players."
However, he was delighted with his own team after the sides turned around, commenting: "Half-time came at a good time because we re-grouped. We at down, got our structure better for the second half, got the right people on the ball at the right time. I thought it was a brilliant second half, against the wind and the rain - I thought second half we were superb."
* The final between Dunloy and Rossa will take place at Corrigan Park and be shown live on TG4.