Cuala’s two late levellers take All-Ireland club final to a replay

Cuala’s two late levellers take All-Ireland club final to a replay
Con O'Callaghan of Cuala in action against Niall Buckley of Na Piarsaigh at Croke Park. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Na Piarsaigh (Limerick) 2-19 Cuala (Dublin) 1-22 (After extra-time)

David Treacy's 12th point of an epic AIB All-Ireland club hurling final ensured that holders Cuala live to fight another day, writes Paul Keane.

The experienced free-taker split the posts in the 80th minute of an extra-time epic to level the game for the ninth time and force a replay.

It was a fitting end to an even contest played in freezing conditions at Croke Park.

Both sides had their opportunities to win it and Cuala dual star Con O'Callaghan, who was generally well held by full-back Mike Casey, dropped a point opportunity short with the last puck.

Na Piarsaigh manager Shane O'Neill expressed a desire for the replay to take place 'as soon as possible' with Thurles mooted as a possibility next Saturday.

O'Callaghan came into the contest seeking to collect a remarkable ninth medal in the last 12 months alone.

The 21-year-old football All-Star flashed an early wide but was hauled down in the fourth minute for a free that the excellent Treacy converted.

Further points from Colm Cronin and the Treacy brothers, David and Sean, surged Mattie Kenny's men 0-4 to 0-1 clear after 13 minutes.

Na Piarsaigh, the 2016 winners, had the wind but struggled to take advantage until they eventually found their range and fired three points in a row in the 17th and 18th minutes.

That levelled the game up at 0-4 apiece after 20 minutes as Na Piarsaigh settled into a sweeper system formation with Alan Dempsey loose at the back.

O'Callaghan won another free that Treacy also converted to reopen a two-point lead for the three-in-a-row Dublin champions.

But it was Na Piarsaigh that finished the half strongest and picked off four points in a row in the closing 10 minutes or so.

Shane Dowling, who only returned from a long-term knee injury for the semi-final win over Slaughtneil, scored two of those.

Adrian Breen grabbed the other two and capitalised on a clever piece of defensive play by Dempsey for the last point of the first-half, leaving the Munster men 0-8 to 0-6 ahead.

Both sides had their periods of dominance in the second-half.

Peter Casey's 34th minute goal, when he spun away from John Sheanon and planted a low ball in the Cuala net, left Na Piarsaigh four points clear.

But the holders' response was emphatic as they outscored their opponents by 0-7 to 0-2 between the 35th and 46th minutes.

They used the wind to loft over a series of points and move 0-16 to 1-11 ahead.

Na Piarsaigh committed more men to attack in the closing period and took over, opening up a three-point lead in injury-time that appeared decisive.

But when Cronin was fouled for Cuala, Moran was called upfield to take the free and blasted it home with a slight deflection from a defender on the line.

That meant extra-time at 1-16 to 1-16 and Na Piarsaigh carried a slender lead at the interval thanks to David Breen's 62nd minute goal.

He was picked out by David Dempsey and finished well from close range before Dempsey himself picked off a score.

But Cuala simply refused to give in and two points from Treacy in the second-half of extra-time, including the equaliser, ensured they will have to do it all over again.

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Scorers for Na Piarsaigh: P Casey 1-2, S Dowling 0-6 (0-4f), A Breen 0-4, K Downes 0-4, D Breen 1-0, D Dempsey 0-2, D Breen 0-1,

Scorers for Cuala: D Treacy 0-12 (0-12f), S Treacy 0-3, Con O'Callaghan 0-1, M Schutte 0-1, C Cronin 0-1, J Malone 0-1, D O'Connell 0-1, Colum Sheanon 0-1, N Kenny 0-1

Na Piarsaigh: P Kennedy; N Buckley, M Casey, A Dempsey; K Kennedy, C King, J Boylan; W O'Donoghue, R Lynch; S Dowling, D Breen, P Casey; D Dempsey, K Downes, A Breen.

Subs: K Ryan for P Casey 9-12, R for Casey 20-21. M Foley for Buckley 70+1, G Brown for Boylan 77, K Ryan for Kennedy 80.

Cuala: S Brennan; O Gough, C O'Callagahn, P Schutte; J Sheanon, S Moran, D O'Connell; J Malone, S Treacy; N Kenny, C Cronin, D Treacy; Colum Sheanon, Con O'Callaghan, M Schutte.

Subs: S Stapleton for J Sheanon 48, N Carty for Kenny 53, C Waldron for Malone 62. Kenny for Carty e/t, Malone for Waldron e/t, S Timlin for S Treacy 67, D O Flynn for Cronin 69, S Treacy for Kenny 75.

Ref: C Lyons (Cork).


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