Gutsy Cuala make it three in a row

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Sport - - GAELIC GAMES - DER­MOT CROWE

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

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