Dublin SHC Final: Cuala resist strong Ballyboden challenge
Dublin Senior Hurling Championship Final
CUALA 2-20 BALLYBODEN ST ENDAS 1-18
By John Harrington at Parnell Park
Cuala showed both character and quality to win their fifth Dublin SHC title in six years at Parnell Park today.
They were given a serious test of their mettle by a fired up Ballyboden team who themselves contributed handsomely to what was a cracking game of hurling.
The losers got so much right but still came up just short.
They led by six points at one stage in a first half that saw them eclipse Cuala for both work-rate and firepower, and held Con O’Callaghan to just a single point from play for the duration of the contest.
Typical of O’Callaghan, though, he still found a way to bend the game to his will and it was the second-half penalty he won which Sean Moran converted that ultimately proved the decisive score of the game.
Now that we’ve mentioned Moran, it’s worth emphasising just how good he was on the day.
He made his name as a defender but has been reinvented as a forward. The fact that he scored 2-3 in this county final tells you all you need to know about how successful that reinvention has been.
His first goal after 11 minutes was a thing of beauty.
After winning the ball the ball he showed a great turn of pace to split the Ballyboden defence and just when you figured he should have laid it off to the supporting Diarmuid O’Floinn he showed just why he backed himself by driving a rasper to the roof of the net from 25 yards out.
That goal drew Cuala level, 1-3 to 0-6, after an opening 10 minutes that saw them play second fiddle to a Ballyboden team who hit them hard from the throw-in.
Credit to ‘Boden, the concession of Moran’s goal didn’t knock them out of their stride as they continued to put their best foot forward.
Paul Ryan, Niall Ryan, and Conal Keaney were all hurling well in attack and had pushed their team back into a three-point lead by the 22nd minute.
Cuala were then given even more food for thought when Keaney struck for a Ballyboden goal.
Aidan Mellet won a penalty after being felled by Cuala ‘keeper Sean Brennan who redeemed himself somewhat by making a spectacular save from Paul Ryan’s subsequent dead-ball strike.
But the crafty Keaney reacted quickest to beat everyone to the rebound and strike it to the back of the net.
Cuala briefly looked in serious trouble, but a surge just before half-time brought them back into the game.
The excellent David Treacy gave them some initial momentum with his second point from play, and two more by Con O’Callaghan and Mark Schutte meant the deficit was a more manageable four points by the half-time break, 1-13 to 1-9 in Ballyboden’s favour.
Cuala had been out-worked for much of that first half, but in the second they dialled up the intensity and that ultimately made all the difference.
Ballyboden still had some good moments, most notably two classy points by Paul Doherty and Paul Ryan early in the second-half, but as Cuala gained more of a foothold in the middle third they began to rack up the scores themselves.
Two points from Moran, one a free, had them within one point by the 46th minute, and then came the passage of play that really set Cuala on their way.
Brilliant harrying and hassling by the Cuala forwards forced Ballyboden to cough up possession in their own half when a stray hand-pass went to the worst man possible – Con O’Callaghan.
He sped towards goals and was fouled in the square by a posse of backpedalling Ballyboden defenders and Moran stepped up to smash the resulting penalty to the back of the net.
‘Boden kept battling and points by Mellet and Niall Ryan had the gap back to the minimum with just five minutes to play.
But Cuala finished with four unanswered points to finally take the game away from ‘Boden and further gild their status as the dominant force of Dublin club hurling.
Scorers for Cuala: David Treacy 0-11 (7f, 1’65), Sean Moran 2-3 (1 pen, 1f), Jake Malone 0-1, Colm Cronin 0-1, Niall Carty 0-1, Con O’Callaghan 0-1, Mark Schutte 0-1, Nicky Kenny 0-1
Scorers for Ballyboden St Enda’s: Paul Ryan 0-8 (3f, 1’65), Conal Keaney 1-1, Niall Ryan 0-4, Conor Dooley 0-2, Aidan Mellett 0-2 Paul Doherty 0-1
CUALA: Sean Brennan; Michael Conroy, Cian O’Callaghan, Oisin Gough; Darragh O’Connell, John Sheanon, Jake Malone; Niall Carty, Sean Treacy; David Treacy, Colm Cronin, Diarmuid O’Floinn; Con O’Callaghan, Mark Schutte, Sean Moran. Subs: Colum Sheanon for Niall Carty (27), Simon Timlin for Michael Conroy (35), Nicky Kenny for Diarmuid O’Floinn (45), Liam Murphy for Colm Cronin (64),
BALLYBODEN ST ENDAS: Finn McGarry; Stephen O’Connor, Luke Corcoran, James Madden; Shane Durkin, David O’Connor, Simon Lambert; Sean McDonnell, Niall McMorrow; Niall Ryan, Paul Doherty, Conor Dooley; Paul Ryan, Conal Keaney, Aidan Mellett. Subs: Paddy Dunleavy for Stephen O’Connor (51), Luke McDwyer for Aidan Mellett (27), Conor McCormack for Paul Doherty (60), Pearse Christie for Sean McDonnell (59)
Ref: Sean Stack