Dunloy Cuchullains 3-23 1-14 O'Donovan Rossa
Three first half goals built the platform for Dunloy to complete a hat-trick of Antrim Senior Hurling Championship titles, sweeping aside the challenge of O'Donovan Rossa at Corrigan Park on Sunday.
Gregory O'Kane's Cuchullains were at the ruthless best against the city side who were left with a mountain to climb by the half as Dunloy's flying full-forward line of Seaan Elliott, Conal Cunning and Chrissy McMahon had already found the net.
There were superb performances right throughout the field for the victors, but yet again it was their captain and spiritual leader Paul Shiels who put on a masterclass, dictating the play and his clever use of possession put the Dunloy attackers in some perfect positions to thrive.
The challengers were first to register as Deaglan Murphy converted a free in the opening minute that appeared to be an ideal way to settle, but Dunloy were soon into their stride with Paul Shiels pulling the strings and after Kevin Molloy pointed the equaliser, Shiels played an excellent ball into the forwards where Conal Cunning gathered, squared to Seaan Elliott who lashed to the net.
The first half was blighted by wides with Dunloy hitting nine to Rossa's seven, yet it was the city side who were ruining a series of shots off target when they needed to keep the board ticking over early, but did began to dominate the breaks for a while, leading to some fine points from Stephen Beatty and Chris McGuinness to leave themselves just 1-3 two 0-4 adrift at the water break.
However, after an exchange of scores upon the resumption, Dunloy would hit their second goal as Kevin McKeague played a perfect ball forward to find Chrissy McMahon in stride and he found Cunning on the left to burst to the net on 23 minutes.
A third major would come just minutes later as Cunning got ahead of Donal Armstrong to a loose ball and prodded to McMahon to whip home and help the Cuchullains into a 3-7 to 0-6 half-time advantage.
Rossa needed something big to get themselves back into the game. but Dunloy piled on the points with Kevin Molloy continuing to build his personal tally of five, while Cunning, Elliott and Keelan Molloy all fared over.
A goal was what Rossa needed and they did get a few glimpses of Ryan Elliott's net, but Thomas Morgan opted to point when there many have been just a half-chance there for more, while Chris McGuinness saw a rasp[iong drive just clear the bar.
Rossa captain Stephen Beatty continued too carry the fight to the champions and he landed a brace, but it was Dunloy leading 3-16 to 0-11 heading into the final quarter.
Rossa finally did get their goal with eight minutes to play and it was Beatty who fittingly got it after taking a pass from Tiernan Murphy, but the gap was insurmountable and Cunning continued to convert from placed balls and it was Kevin Molloy who had the final saw as Dunloy completed the three-in-a-row, winning their fourth title in five years.
Dunloy: Ryan Elliott; Aaron Crawford, Conor McKinley, Conor Kinsella; Ronan Molloy, Kevin McKeague, Ryan McGarry; Paul Shiels (0-02), Keelan Molloy (0-01); Eoin O'Neill (0-01), Kevin Molloy (0-05), Eoin McFerran; Chrissy McMahon (1-01), Conal Cunning (1-11, 0-08 frees), Seaan Elliott (1-02).
Subs: Nicky McKeague for Eoin McFerran (48), Deaglan Smyth for Chrissy McMahon (52), Eamonn Smyth for Kevin McKeague (56), Gabriel McTaggart for Eoin O'Neill (59), Oran Quinn for Aaron Crawford (60+2)
Rossa: Donal Armstrong; Ciaran Orchin, Gerard Walsh (0-01 free), Aidan Orchin; Adrian Kenneally, Stephen Shannon (0-01), Aodhán O'Brien; Seaghan Shannon, Deaglan Murphy (0-02 frees); Daire Murphy, Michael Armstrong, Stephen Beatty (1-04); Tiernan Murphy, Chris McGuinness (0-03), Thomas Morgan (0-03).
Subs: Conal Shannon for Aidan Orchin (6), Eoin Trainor for Seaghan Shannon (HT), Dara Rocks for Daire Murphy (HT), Niall Crossan for Ciaran Orchin (50), Cormac McGettigan for Tiarnan Murphy (52)
Referee: Mark O'Neill (Armoy)