Gutsy Cuala make it three in a row
CUALA completed a Dublin senior hurling championship three in a row at Parnell Park yesterday, fighting off a ferocious challenge from neighbours Kilmacud Crokes. The reigning All-Ireland club champions weren’t at their best in windy conditions but much of that must be attributed to their opponents whose brave effort at unseating them narrowly fell short.
With the match in injury time there was still the chance of an upset as Crokes pounded the Cuala goal but the winners’ defence held firm, a last goal attempt from Dillon Mulligan flashing wide with his team two points in arrears. The final score followed, six minutes into injury time, when David Treacy had his first from play. A few minutes earlier Treacy was brought back on the field to take a crucial free, having been substituted shortly before. He converted after Crokes had rallied to move to within a point.
Cuala head back to Parnell Park in a week’s time to face the Kilkenny champions in the quarter-final of the Leinster championship.
Last year Crokes lost the county final to Cuala by a point after enduring a dreadful start. On this occasion, they were smarter out of the blocks, with Lorcan McMullan scoring direct from the throw-in. They looked sharp and hungry, throwing themselves into every challenge with gusto, and points from Fergal Whitely, one of their most impressive players of the campaign, Oisin O’Rorke, a free, and Sean McGrath opened up a 0-4 to 0-1 lead after ten minutes when playing with a strong wind advantage.
But the crucial score came on the quarter-hour mark. A cross-field ball from Colm Cronin was snapped up by Darragh O’Connell and he held his balance well before squeezing through a gap and finishing past Eoin Dalton. The goal put Cuala ahead for the first time in the game, 1-3 to 0-4, and for 20 minutes of the opening half Crokes failed to add to their tally.
Robert O’Loughlin played as a sweeper for most of the match, which left Crokes short on attacking numbers when they had the wind. They defended well. Niall Corcoran kept close guard on Mark Schutte and Bill O’Carroll was equally tenacious guarding Con O’Callaghan. Those twin threats had a frustrating opening half with O’Callaghan having to come out the field to score his only point and Schutte also nailing just one score. By half-time though, Crokes looked in bother, trailing 0-6 to 1-5, with the wind to face.
However, they drew level early in the second half, and while they couldn’t carve out a goal chance, they stayed in touching distance for the remainder. Whitely finished with three points despite the close attentions of John Sheanon, and O’Rorke finished with seven points, two from play.
Cuala, with the extra man at the back, never looked uncomfortable and
Sean Moran was impeccable throughout. His striking was also immaculate; for one of Cuala’s scores he picked out Con O’Callaghan from a free. O’Callaghan, after a slow start, finished with three points and set up another.
Schutte went off injured in the second half but not before he had won a penalty on 42 minutes, from which Treacy had his effort saved by Dalton.
Cronin knocked over two points and Ross O’Carroll did all he could to launch a late siege on the Cuala goal but it wasn’t enough.
Scorers — Cuala: D Treacy 0-6 (0-4 fs, 0-1 65); D O’Connell 1-0, Con O’Callaghan 0-3, C Cronin 0-2, C Sheanon, M Schutte 0-1. Kilmacud Crokes: O O’Rorke 0-7 (0-5 fs), F Whitely 0-3, L McMullan, S McGrath, R O’Carroll 0-1.
Cuala: S Brennan; S Timlin, Cian O’Callaghan, O Gough; J Sheanon, S Moran, P Schutte; J Malone, D Malone; S Treacy, C Cronin, D Treacy; C Sheanon, Con O’Callaghan, M Schutte. Subs: S Stapleton for M Schutte (inj, 46 mins); C Waldron for D Treacy (59); N Kenny for C Sheanon (64); D Treacy for Cronin (65).
Kilmacud Crokes: E Dalton; N Corcoran, B O’Carroll, R O’Loughlin; R Murphy, R O’Carroll, D Kelly; L McMullan, C MacGabhann; N O’Riordan, F Whitely, C Conway; O O’Rorke, B O’Rorke, S McGrath. Subs: R Hayes for O’Riordain (42 mins); D Mulligan for B O’Rorke (44); S O’Dwyer for McGrath (61); J Gibbons for O’Loughlin (59).
Referee: F Gaffney (Na Fianna).
Jim Gibbons (left) of Kilmacud Crokes clashes with Cuala’s David Treacy at Parnell Park