Classy Cuala retain Leinster title
AIB Leinster Club SHC Final
CUALA 1-23 KILCORMAC-KILLOUGHEY 1-9
By Paul Keane at O’Moore Park, Portlaoise
Dual star Con O'Callaghan's early goal powered AIB All-Ireland club champions Cuala to victory in Portlaoise and back to back Leinster titles.
Mattie Kenny's Dalkey outfit roared into an early 11-point lead and sat on that cushion as 2013 All-Ireland finalists Kilcormac-Killoughey fought back in the second-half.
But the Offaly side, who lost Conor Mahon to a red card shortly before half-time, had simply left themselves with too much to do.
They also failed to convert a 38th minute penalty when a goal would have reduced the deficit to five points and given them some hope.
Cuala, in truth, always looked in control and are the first team from the capital to claim two provincial club hurling titles.
O'Callaghan, a football All-Star and the reigning Leinster club Hurler of the Year, scored 1-2 in the first-half while David Treacy top scored overall with 0-10, all from placed balls.
Colum Sheanon and Colm Cronin also weighed in with a brace of points each early on when the holders enjoyed that scoring burst.
Cuala will return to action on February 10 for an All-Ireland semi-final against Liam Mellows.
Three-in-a-row Dublin champions Cuala couldn't have asked for a better start and struck 1-8 before Kilcormac-Killoughey managed to get on the score-sheet.
That opening score was a Ciaran Slevin point and Mahon added a goal just seconds later to suggest that it mightn't be such a one-sided contest after all.
But Cuala still led 1-10 to 1-2 at half-time and looked entirely comfortable all around the field.
O'Callaghan, with 2-6 in their previous two games, was their principal attacker once again and took off on a trademark solo run towards goal just seconds into the contest.
He was bottled up on that occasion but took just 12 minutes to hit the net for the third game running.
He latched onto a long delivery from Sean Moran down the left, spun away from full-back Ger Healion and blasted a shot that deflected in off the 'keeper.
That put Cuala 1-3 to 0-0 clear and back to back O'Callaghan points in the 17th and 18th minutes opened up a 1-8 to 0-0 lead.
Enda Grogan was switched onto O'Callaghan after the goal concession with Healion operating as a sweeper in front of the full-forward.
That first Kilcormac-Killoughey score came in the 25th minute and Slevin pointed another free in injury-time.
But they didn't score a point from play until the 32nd minute and the first-half ended in frustration for Mahon who was shown a straight red card for an incident involving Oisin Gough.
Kilcormac-Killoughey, who moved Ger Healion to full-forward for the second-half, were better after the restart, but needed a goal which never arrived.
Cuala, in turn, were happy to bide their time before hitting the gas again with a succession of scores in the final quarter.
Treacy was excellent from frees while Jake Malone and Darragh O'Connell also got on the score-sheet, intriguingly amounting to an overall of 26 points (1-23) for the third game running in the province.
Scorers for Cuala: David Treacy 0-10 (9fs, 165), Con O'Callaghan 1-2, Colm Cronin 0-3, Colum Sheanon 0-3, Darragh O'Connell 0-2 (1f), Cian Waldron 0-1, Jake Malone 0-1, Brian Fitzgerald 0-1.
Scorers for Kilcormac-Killoughey: Ciaran Slevin 0-5 (3fs, 165), Conor Mahon 1-0, Peter Geraghty 0-2, Daniel Currams 0-1, Thomas Geraghty 0-1.
CUALA: Sean Brennan; Oisin Gough, Cian O'Callaghan, Simon Timlin; Paul Schutte, Sean Moran, John Sheanon; Darragh O'Connell, Sean Treacy; Colm Cronin, David Treacy, Jake Malone; Colum Sheanon, Con O'Callaghan, Nicky Kenny.
Subs: Cian Waldron for Schutte (22), Brian Fitzgerald for Kenny (44), Niall Carty for D Treacy (56), Ross Tierney for O'Connell (59), Shane Stapleton for Con O'Callaghan (59).
*KILCORMAC-KILLOUGHEY: *Conor Slevin; Killian Leonard, Ger Healion, Jordan Quinn; Kevin Grogan, Damien Kilmartin, Enda Grogan; Thomas Geraghty, Ciaran Slevin; James Gorman, Conor Mahon, Peter Geraghty; Stephen Leonard, Peter Healion, Daniel Currams.
Subs: Alan McConville for Peter Healion (45), James Geraghty for Gorman (53), Conor Quinn for S Leonard (57), B Leonard for G Healion (59), Cathal Mahon for Quinn (60).
REFEREE: Sean Cleere (Kilkenny).