Cuala (Dublin) 3-21 Slaughtneil (Derry) 2-11
Classy Cuala charged into the All-Ireland Club Hurling Championship final with a big win over Slaughtneil, and they will be the first club to appear in the St Patrick’s Day showpiece, writes Francis Mooney.
The Leinster champions oozed class as they dominated their Ulster opponents from start to finish at the Athletic Grounds, killing off the Emmets’ treble dream with goals from Con O’Callaghan, Sean Treacy and Niall Carty.
Slaughtneil never looked like joining their club’s footballers and camogs in the All-Ireland deciders, but they will reflect on a historic season which saw them win a first provincial title.
The Derry men made a promising start with early scores from Chrissy McKaigue and Brendan Rogers, but the Dubliners responded through David Treacy and Mark Schutte.
Treacy’s dead ball striking was to be a key factor as the Leinster champions stepped up the tempo, dominating all the key areas, and establishing a firm defensive grip op the tie.
Jake Malone, Sean Moran and Cian O’Callaghan were solid at the back, and provd the platform for several rewarding attacks.
Darragh O’Connell’s distribution was another plus for a Cuala side growing in confidence with every passing moment, and he was instrumental in the creation of the ir 11th minute goal.
A well worked move ended with Con O’Callaghan smashing an unstoppable shot to the top corner of the net, and the Dubliners were well on their way.
Treacy landed his first from play and tagged on another couple of frees, and they led by 1-8 to 0-3 with ten minutes to play in the opening half.
McKaigue, Rogers and Cormac O’Doherty did pull back points, but a couple of Con O’Callaghan scores sent Cuala in with a 1-13 to 0-5 lead.
Sean Treacy skipped past his marker to bury a second goal just seconds after the restart, but the Oak Leaf men responded immediately with a goal of their own, scrambled home by Gerald Bradley.
Sean Moran landed a monster free from 120 metres and Cronan dinked over another on the run as the margin swelled to 14 inside the opening ten minutes of the second half.
A superb Oisn Doherty save denied Con O’Callaghan a second goal, but couldn’t half the Cuala march, with O’Callaghan bringing his tally to 1-3.
Cormac O’Doherty and Gerald Bradley registered badly needed scores at the other end, but with Moran turning in an immense display at the back, they were unable to make sufficient inroads into a well organised Cuala defence.
And it went from bad to worse for Slaughtneil when Cormac McKenna picked up a second booking in the 51st minute.
Despite the setback, they grabbed a goal through Se McGuigan, but Cuala inevitably had the last say as Mark Schutte unselfishly off-loaded to substitute Niall Carty for goal number three.
Cuala: S Brennan; O Gough, C O’Callaghan, S Timlin; S Moran (0-1, f), J Malone, J Sheanon; C Cronin (0-3), D O’Connell (0-1); S Treacy (1-1), C Sheanon (0-1), D Treacy (0-7, 6f); C Waldron, C O’Callaghan (1-3), M Schutte (0-1).
Subs: N Kenny (0-1) for Waldron (44), N Carty (1-0) for C Sheanon (51), N Waldron (0-1) for D Treacy (57), S Stapleton for J Sheanon (59)
Slaughtneil: O O’Doherty; C McAlister, K McKaigue, P McNeill; S Cassidy, Shane McGuigan, M McGrath; E Cassidy, G Bradley (1-2); B Rogers (0-2), M McGuigan, C McKenna, Se McGuigan (1-0), C McKaigue (0-2), C O’Doherty (0-5, 2f, 1 ’65).
Subs: B Cassidy for M McGuigan (h-t), R McCartney for E Cassidy (42)
Referee: C Lyons (Cork).