Antrim's Dunloy qualified for their second straight AIB Club hurling final this afternoon at Clones, with a second half run of seven straight scores, including a placed ball from goalkeeper Gareth McGhee seeing them through 2-13 to 2-10 against Portumna. Kevin Hayes opened the scoring with a point after 30 seconds for the first time Connacht champions before David Canning and Dunloy half forward Paddy Richmond exchanged points.
Galway Senior and Under-21 star Damien Hayes pointed on 16 minutes for a 0-03 to 0-02 lead before he netted superbly from all of 30 metres two minutes later. The Ulster men's response was immediate with Richmond reducing the deficit to a single point with a superb goal after some silky stick work by Greg O'Kane.
Points from play from Ollie Canning and Frank Canning on 29 and 32 minutes looked to have given the Galway men a half time lead, but centre half forward Colm McGuckian swept home Dunloy's second goal fifty seconds from the whistle to edge them in front, 2-03 to 1-05.
After the break, Portumna regained the lead through Frank Canning and Andrew Smith before Dunloy's run of seven consecutive strikes between 43 and 50 minutes put them 2-10 to 1-09 in front. Frank Canning replied for the Galway men with a free four minutes later, cancelling out Greg O'Kane's first point and they were thrown a late lifeline eleven minutes from the end when Kevin Hayes goaled from eight yards out.
Two further points saw Portumna reduce Dunloy's advantage to three points, and Ollie Canning went desperately close to levelling the match in injury time but his goal shot went left and wide. Dunloy survived that scare and held firm to secure their place in the AIB All-Ireland Club final for the fourth time in the club's history.
Filed by Shane Murray