Keelan Molloy lights it up like he's Kylian Mbappe with stunning solo goal in All-Ireland semi-final
Dunloy Cúchullains 1-14 St Thomas 0-13
A Keelan Molloy inspired Dunloy have qualified for their first All-Ireland club hurling final in 17 years.
They said that Croke Park wouldn't do these club games justice but the atmosphere was something special when John Keenan blew that full-time whistle. It was an explosion of green and yellow on Jones' Road. It was hugs and roars and jumps and jigs all around.
The men from Antrim had done it.
Those were magical scenes. The dull first half was nothing of the sort but in summation, Dunloy went into the break down by a point when, in reality, they had enough chances to be ahead.
They hit no fewer than nine wides in that first half and while St Thomas' also struggled with that swirling deceiver of a breeze, unlike Dunloy, they didn't miss a penalty, and unlike Dunloy they weren't on the wrong end of a 65 call. Conal Cunning did miss a penalty, and the umpire let Cian Mahony away with one.
But a point deficit is no deficit at half-time. There was a lot of hurling to be done.
Unusually, just on the sound of the referee's half-time whistle, the Dunloy players gathered in the middle of Croke Park for a huddle. They were roared off the field then and fifteen minutes later, they were roared back on.
You can’t see them but you can hear them! @DunloyGAC are through to the All-Ireland club hurling final pic.twitter.com/hYcfItyf84
— GAA JOE (@GAA__JOE) December 18, 2022
That was the theme of a day on which the Dunloy crowd were louder and prouder. It was because their team gave them hell of a lot more to shout about.
St Thomas' supporters would have feared them at half-time. They'd have been thinking about the sharpness of their hurling, the speed of their forwards and the chances they missed.
They might have missed them in the first half, but they were much more clinical in the second as St Thomas' fears were confirmed. It was whispered that of all the five county titles they've won in the last five years, this was the hardest they had to work for one. That they weren't at the level of years gone by.
Maybe all the mileage is catching up on them. It certainly seemed that way.
But on a day like today, it's all about Dunloy. It's all about Keelan Molloy who, despite a couple of early wides, showed great fortitude to score a stunning 1-2, including the point of the day and the goal of the day.
This young man has something magic about him and he acted the magician on the three quarter hour mark, steaming onto a pass in midfield before flicking superbly over three converging St Thomas' defenders. The timing of the flick couldn't have been any better.
And then instead of getting carried away, he carried out his coaches' orders with military precision. For forwards, a coaches' order is to carry that ball as far as you can until you have to shoot. Molloy ran so far in on top of Gerald Kelly that Kelly never really stood a chance.
What a goal!
Keelan Molloy times his flick so perfectly that it takes three men out of the gamepic.twitter.com/Upp8ddK47A
— GAA JOE (@GAA__JOE) December 18, 2022
That put Dunloy five up and though St Thomas' never gave in, Dunloy never gave them an inch. Eamon Smyth scored the raker of a point that sealed it. Conal Cunning continued to snipe like the sniper he is. Ronan Molloy worked like a demon. And Paul Shiels' introduction had the desired impact.
Ryan Elliott, Phelim Duffin, Ryan McGarry, Oran Quinn, Aaron Crawford, Kevin Molloy, Eamon Smyth (0-1), Paul Shiels, Eoin McFerran, Ronan Molloy, Decky Smyth, Nigel Elliott (0-1), Keelan Molloy (1-2), Conal Cunning (0-6, 0-3f), Seann Eliott (0-1)
Anton McGrath (0-1) for Decky Smyth (28), Paul Shiels for Aaron Crawford (37), Nicky McKeague for Nigel Elliott (56)
Gerald Kelly, Cian Mahony, Fintan Burke, John Headd, Evan Duggan (0-1), Cathal Burke, Bernard Burke, David Burke, Brendan Farrell, Conor Cooney (0-5, 0-3f), Oisin Flannery (0-1), Mark Caulfield (0-2) Victor Manso, Eanna Burke, Damien McGlynn (0-2)
Conor Headd for Brendan Farrell (HT), Shane Cooney for Victor Manso (42)