Cuala retain Dublin SHC crown
Dublin SHC Final
CUALA 1-13 KILMACUD CROKES 1-13
By John Harrington at Parnell Park
Reigning AIB All-Ireland Club SHC champions Cuala have retained their Dublin title, but they were made work hard for it by a defiant Kilmacud Crokes side.
It was a ferociously physical contest between two really committed teams, but in the end Cuala just had that little bit more quality than Kilmacud did in attacking areas of the pitch.
The gallant losers were very reliant on the quite superb Oisin O’Rorke, whereas Cuala posed a greater variety of threats thanks to men like Con O’Callaghan, Colm Cronin, Mark Schutte, and David Treacy.
Right from the off Cuala knew they were in for a serious contest because it was Kilmacud who made the more positive start to the game.
They had a stiff breeze at their backs, and their attitude was spot on too as the ripped into every tackle and won the majority of 50-50 balls in the first 10 minutes.
They made a statement of intent right from the throw-in when Lorcan McMullan won the ball, sallied downfield, and struck it confidently between the posts.
Fergal Whitley and Seán McGrath also clipped a couple of classy points early on, and by the 10-minute mark Crokes had opened up a 0-4 to 0-1 lead.
The longer the half wore on though, the more Cuala got to grips with the Kilmacud challenge.
Their half-back line grew increasingly dominant, and their forwards upped their work-rate to prevent Kilmacud from clearing their lines easily.
And because they were now on top in the middle third, Cuala were able to fire in accurate deliveries to their inside forwards that by-passed the Crokes sweeper Robert O’Loughlin.
A nice point from Mark Schutte and a David Treacy free reduced the deficit to a minimum, and then Cuala hit the front when they scored the only goal of the match.
Colm Cronin lofted a high ball across the 21-yard line and the Crokes defence fatally allowed it to drop which was all the invitation that Cuala midfielder Darragh O’Connell needed to race onto it, skate past a couple of tackles, and fire it to the roof of the net.
Another pointed free from Treacy and one from play from the increasingly influential Con O’Callaghan pushed Cuala four clear, and things were looking grim for Kilmacud.
To their credit, they roused themselves to score the last two points of the half through the impressive Whitely and O’Rorke, and went to the dressing-rooms trailing by 1-5 to 0-6.
They clearly took heart from that revival, because they came out really fired up at the start of the second half.
Their half-backs and midfield thundered into the contest, and that gave them the platform to run at the Cuala defence in a way they rarely did in the first half.
As a ploy, it paid early dividends, as Oisin O’Rorke drove over two frees to bring the teams level.
It looked like that good work might be undone when Kilmacud then conceded a penalty after Mark Schutte was fouled in the square after winning a high ball, but goalkeeper Eoin Dalton saved brilliantly from David Treacy’s strike.
Treacy did manage to nail the resulting ’65, and in what would prove to be a crucial phase of the game Cuala tacked on another three points through Colum Sheanon, Con O’Callaghan and Colm Cronin.
Kilmacud were guilty of hitting some poor wides in this period, but they showed serious character to come with one last charge in the final ten minutes of the match.
Points from O’Rorke, Ross O’Carroll and Whitely mean the gap was down the minimum – 1-11 to 0-13 – as the match ticked into injury time.
There was drama then when Cuala won a hotly contested free and brought back on David Treacy – who had just been subbed off minutes earlier – to take it.
He held his nerve to hit it straight and true between the posts and then for good measure added a sweet point from play to push Cuala three clear.
There was time for one last desperate charge from Crokes as they came looking for a goal to bring the game to a replay.
They managed to engineer a half-chance too, but substitute Dillon Mulligan’s fierce drive from around 24 yards flew high and wide past the right post.
The final whistle blew shortly afterwards and Cuala were still standing, but they knew they’d been in a fight.
Scorers for Cuala: David Treacy 0-6 (4f 1’65), Darragh O’Connell 1-0, Con O’Callaghan 0-3, Colm Cronin 0-2, Mark Schutte 0-1, Colum Sheanon 0-1.
Scorers for Kilmacud Crokes: Oisin O’Rorke 0-7 (5f), Fergal Whitley 0-3, Seán McGrath 0-1, Lorcan McMullan 0-1, Ross O’Carroll 0-1.
CUALA: Sean Brennan; Simon Timlin, Cian O’Callaghan, Oisin Gough; John Sheanon, Sean Moran, Paul Schutte; Jake Malone, Darragh O’Connell; Sean Treacy, Colm Cronin, David Treacy; Colum Sheanon, Con O’Callaghan, Mark Schutte. Subs: Shane Stapleton for Mark Schutte (41), Cian Waldron for David Treacy (59), David Treacy for Colm Cronin (64), Nicky Kenny for Colum Sheanon.
KILMACUD CROKES: Eoin Dalton; Niall Corcoran, Bill O’Carroll, Robert O’Loughlin; Robert Murphy, Ross O’Carroll, Damien Kelly; Lorcan McMullan, Cian MacGabhann; Naomhán Ó Ríordáin, Fergal Whitely, Caolan Conway; Oisin O’Rorke, Barry O’Rorke, Seán McGrath. Subs: Ronan Hayes for Naomhán Ó Ríordáin (37), Dillon Mulligan for Barry O’Rorke (43), Stevie O’Dwyer for Seán McGrath (52), Jim Gibbons for Robert O’Loughlin (59)