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Bigger tests loom for rampant De La Salle

De La Salle 1-21 Dungarvan 0-12
De La Salle had little trouble collecting a third Waterford SHC title in five years when they easily disposed of Dungarvan at Fraher Field yesterday.

A 12-point winning margin didn’t flatter De La Salle, who had a considerable advantage in terms of experience and physique before the ball was thrown in; the city side also benefited from Dungarvan getting the worst possible start imaginable.

The western side started with the breeze, but their young side — the average age of the Dungarvan starting 15 was 20.8 — soon got an idea of the difficulties that lay ahead. Jake Dillon had already pointed a De La Salle free when, in the third minute, John Mullane collected the ball on halfway, turned and drove deep into the Dungarvan half.

The county star delayed his pass until the last possible second before finding Dillon, who finished low into the corner for a fine goal.

The westerners settled, though, and points from Cormac Curran (free) and Sean Ryan — a fine effort from the wing — got them back within touching distance.

Ominously, however, De La Salle kept running at the Dungarvan defence and drawing frees. Dillon converted one of those frees to go with a neat Jack Kennedy score from play.

Cormac Curran’s second pointed free made it 1-4 to 0-3 on 12 minutes, but already De La Salle’s physical strength, particularly in a half-back line marshalled by Kevin Moran, was making life difficult for the Dungarvan attack. On 14 minutes Ryan Donnelly got through and shot for goal from an acute angle, but Stevie Brenner saved well: Curran pointed the resulting 65 to put a goal between the sides at the end of the first quarter.

Dungarvan worked another goal chance just two minutes later — a De La Salle handpass intended for Kevin Moran hung in the air and Eoin Healy stepped in to intercept. The Dungarvan wing-forward battled through with the ball and improvised a kick which Brenner saved, but when the De La Salle ‘keeper lay on the ball, Dungarvan were awarded a 21-metre free, which Cormac Curran pointed.

That made it 0-6 to 1-4, but De La Salle responded through Mullane (two) and Paidi Nevin, to give the city side a four-point lead with seven minutes left. When Kennedy and Dillon (free) added two points soon afterwards the gap stretched out to six.

Cormac Curran pointed for Dungarvan and John Keane responded in kind for De La Salle but the physical presence and clean striking of Moran and Brian Phelan was now beginning to tell. Dungarvan were struggling to keep the ball in the opposition half, while Kennedy was winning more and more possession up front for De La Salle. Dean Twomey’s late point from distance gave the city club a 1-11 to 0-7 lead at the half, and the outlook was bleak for Dungarvan facing the wind.

De La Salle made their intentions clear on the resumption, hammering over four points in the first five minutes through Phelan (free), Eddie Barrett, John Keane and Mullane. When Dungarvan went upfield they found it difficult to break through, though three Curran frees made it 1-15 to 0-10 by the 40th minute.

The city side kept their opponents at bay with points from sub Shane McNulty, another sweetly-struck long-distance point from Phelan and Dillon, however, which meant it was 1-18 to 0-10 with quarter of an hour left.

Dungarvan needed goals but didn’t look like getting them until Gavin Crotty turned his man on 52 minutes — he found Colm Curran near goal but Steven Daniels deflected Curran’s shot out for a 65 which Cormac Curran pointed (1-19 to 0-12). A goal then might have ensured a barnstorming finish, but Dungarvan wouldn’t score again, while De La Salle added points through McNulty and Paudie Nevin; even then Nevin could have taken another step and gone for goal, and probably would have done so if the game had been closer.

De La Salle captain Kevin Moran had words of consolation for Dungarvan as he accepted the cup, pointing out that their recent underage successes meant they were the "coming club" in Waterford.

For De La Salle, though, they’ll already be looking beyond their own borders. The city club will feel they have unfinished business in the provincial and All-Ireland club championships and will already be focusing on their upcoming date with the Clare champions in their opening Munster Club championship game.

Scorers for De La Salle: J Dillon 1-5 (0-4 fs); J Keane, J Mullane 0-3 each; B Phelan (0-2 fs), P Nevin, J Kennedy, S McNulty 0-2 each; E Barrett, D Twomey 0-1 each.

Subs for De La Salle: S McNulty for Greene, 34; O Keevers for Madigan, 53; J Sage for Keane, C Sheehan for Watt, T Kearney for Barrett, all 59.

Scorers for Dungarvan: Cormac Curran 0-9 (0-7 fs, 0-2 65s); Colm Curran, S Ryan, G Crotty 0-1 each.

Subs for Dungarvan: K Duggan for Sheridan, HT, N Power for Cathal Curran, 42; D Houlihan for Donnelly and T Galvin for K Daly, 59.

Referee: M Wadding.