Cuala battle past Lucan Sarsfields in Dublin SHC semi-final
Dublin Senior Hurling Championship semi-final
CUALA 1-17 LUCAN SARSFIELDS 0-13
By John Harrington at Parnell Park
Cuala’s relatively handsome seven-point winning margin doesn't reflect the ferocity of the challenge posed by Lucan Sarsfields in this enjoyable Dublin SHC semi-final.
The underdogs dominated the first-half and were still in the game for much of the second before Cuala’s greater class in attack finally told in the final quarter.
Con O’Callaghan, especially, came good after a quiet first half, and in the final 11 minutes of the match Cuala outscored their opponents by 1-6 to 0-1.
The space they exploited in that phase of the game didn’t exist for most of the contest thanks to the physical intensity that Lucan brought to bear on the contest.
Cuala opened the scoring in the very first minute courtesy of a Niall Carty point after a clever David Treacy assist, but it soon became very apparent that a very determined Lucan Sarsfields had turned up for this match as they set about tearing into the favourites with real gusto.
The impressively vocal support their on-field players were getting from their subs in the stand reflected their unity of purpose as they harried and hassled Cuala players for every ball.
Their controlled aggression seemed to rattle Cuala, who struggled to move the ball through the lines with their usual fluency.
Lucan were winning most of the contests for ruck ball and putting in some seriously meaty hits in the middle third which gave them a solid platform to build on.
Chris Crummey and Peter Kelly were providing a great ball-winning outlet in the half-forward line, and as the half progressed Lucan’s direct approach began earning them frees that Ben Coffey invariably converted.
A fine point on the right wing by Kelly had them 0-5 to 0-1 ahead by the 13th minute, and it was a deserved lead.
The Cuala management were becoming more and more animated on the sideline as they urged their players to match Lucan’s industry.
The second quarter was a bit more positive from a Cuala point of view. John Sheanon began to exert himself at centre-back and edge his duel with Chris Crummey, which seemed to steady the team as a collective.
A better quality of ball was making its way into the Cuala forward line, and now it was the Lucan defence’s turn to concede frees with some rash tackling that David Treacy punished from placed balls.
Towards the end of the half Cuala created a couple of decent goal chances too, but Liam Murphy shot wide and then Cillian Murray pulled off a good save from Mark Schutte to deflect the ball out for a ’65.
David Treacy knocked that over the bar to leave the half-time score reading 0-7 to 0-5 in favour of Lucan.
Chris Crummey scored his first from play early in the second-half to stretch Lucan’s advantage to three points, but from there the momentum swung steadily Cuala’s way.
Con O’Callaghan began to warm to the task after a quiet first-half, and in the space of five minutes scored a nice point and won two frees that Treacy converted.
Kevin Fitzgerald kept Lucan ticking over with an inspirational point from play, but Cuala were level by the 46th minute thanks to a sweet point by Diarmuid O’Floinn and another free by Treacy.
CJ Smith briefly edged Lucan ahead, but then Cuala landed a decisive blow when they scored the only goal of the game.
Con O’Callaghan won possession again and fed the ball to the on-rushing Sean Moran who struck the ball cleanly, but also benefited from an awkward hop that took the ball over Murray’s hurley on the way to the net.
A minute later O’Callaghan tore through for a fine individual score, and the writing was on the wall for Lucan.
They hit a couple of poor wides that stymied any hope of a comeback from the West Dublin team, and in the final few minutes Cuala finished with a flourish as Sean Treacy, Colm Cronin, Colum Sheanon, and Con O’Callaghan all scored sweet points from play.
The defending champions are into another County Final as most expected they would be, but they certainly had to earn their passage.
Scorers for Cuala: David Treacy 0-7 (6f, ’65), Sean Moran 1-1 (1f), Con O’Callaghan 0-3, Diarmuid O’Floinn 0-2, Sean Treacy 0-1, Niall Carty 0-1, Colm Cronin 0-1, Colum Sheanon 0-1.
Scorers for Lucan Sarsfields: Ben Coffey 0-7 (7f), Kevin Fitzgerald 0-2, Peter Kelly 0-1, Chris Crummey 0-1, Paul Crummey 0-1, CJ Smith 0-1.
CUALA: Sean Brennan; Oisin Gough, Cian O’Callaghan, Michael Conroy; Darragh O’Connell, John Sheanon, Jake Malone; Niall Carty, Sean Treacy; Sean Moran, Con O’Callaghan, Diarmuid O’Floinn; Mark Schutte, David Treacy, Liam Murphy. Subs: Colm Cronin for Sean Treacy (ht), Simon Timlin for Michael Conroy (42), Colum Sheanon for Liam Murphy (48), Emmet Murphy for David Treacy (58)
LUCAN SARSFIELDS: Cillian Murray; Paul Claffey, Alan Murphy, Paul Rigney; John Belloew, John McCaffrey, Matt McCaffrey; Ronan Smith, Kevin Fitzgerald; Peter Kelly, Chris Crummey, Ben Coffey; CJ Smith, Paul Crummey, Ciaran Dowling. Subs: Colm Walsh for Alan Murphy (25), Harry Ladd for Peter Kelly (53), Emmett O’Conghaile for CJ Smith (56)
Referee: Sean Stack