Dunloy 3-16 - 2-15 Ruairi Óg Cushendall

Sean Elliott struck two late goals as Dunloy overcame holders, Cushendall in a thrilling Antrim Senior Hurling Championship final at Ballycastle this afternoon.

Conal Cunning top-scored for the winners with nine points - seven from frees - while Neil McManus landed one more for Cushendall, but Dunloy were probably the better side overall despite of an off-colour opening half in front of the posts them when they hit 10 wides.

Dunloy did open this game brighter with Nicky McKeague, Keelan Molloy, Nigel Elliott and Cunning all on target early, while McManus led the way for Cushendall with three early scores at Dunloy led 0-4 to 0-3.

The pendulum was then to swing Cushendall's way on 15 minutes as they got the game's first goal rather fortuitously when Fergus McCambridge's shot for a point dropped short that Dunloy goalkeeper Ryan Elliott failed to control as the ball ended up in the net.

Sean Elliott scores the first of his late goals

McManus tagged on a couple of pointed frees as Dunloy struggled with their shooting at the at the other end, but Eoin O'Neill did settle them when  weaving through traffic to score.

McCambridge hit back immediately, but three Cunning points got Dunloy to within one as half-time loomed, but these scores were wiped out by Eoghan Campbell, Alex Delargy and McManus as it appeared Cushendall would take a healthy lead into the break.

That wasn't the case as with the final act of the opening half, Dunloy launched one last attack with Nigel Elliott getting in behind the Cushendall defence to gather a long delivery to race in and find the net to leave Cushendall just one ahead at the break - 1-9 to 1-8.

The teams were to go score-for-score after the break before Paul Shiels fired over from the right to level matters at 1-12 on 42 minutes before Cunning edged Dunloy back in front from a free. 

Cushendall managed to get back in front thanks to McManus and Paddy McGill, but back came Dunloy with Keelan Molloy and Cunning points to lead by one with two to play.

Cushendall were in search of the equaliser, but from a breakaway, Gabriel McTaggart played a low ball into Seaan Elliott who turned Fred McCurry and raced through to find the net.

McManus tapped over a free to leave that goal between them, but Elliott wasn't finished and when Nigel Elliott hand-passed across the face of goal, he gathered possession at the second attempt and made that bit of space he needed when being held up to bat home.

Cushendall weren't for giving up and McGill saw his overhead pull crash off the post before Dom Delargy has a goal ruled out for a square ball. They did manage to pull a goal back after Nigel Elliott pointed at the other end through Christy McNaughton who swept home a rebound from a McGill shot that was saved, but this was mere consolation as Dunloy saw out the closing seconds to claim the Volunteer Cup for the 13th time.

Dunloy: R Elliott; P Duffin, C McKinley, A Crawford; E Smyth, K McKeague, R McGarry; P Shiels (0-1), R Molloy; K Molloy (0-2), C Brogan, N Elliott (1-2); E O'Neill (0-1), C Cunning (0-9, 7 frees), N McKeague (0-1).

Subs: C Kinsella for A Crawford (34), S Elliott (2-0) for N McKeague (40), S Dooey for C Brogan (52), G McTaggart for R Molly (56)

Cushendall: C McAllister; M Burke, P Burke, S Delargy; A Graffin, E Campbell (0-1), F McCurry; Stephen Walsh, Scott Walsh; N McManus (0-10, 8 frees), N McCormick (0-1), R McCambridge; F McCambridge (1-1), P McGill (0-1), A Delargy (0-1).

Subs: D McNaughton for Scott Walsh (41), C McNaughton (1-0) for S Delargy (49), E McKillop for A Graffin, D Delargy for F McCambridge (60)

Referee: Colm McDonald (St Gall's)