Holders Cuala showed significant defensive weaknesses when defeated by Na Fianna (3-23 to 2-20) in Saturday's Dublin SHC Group 4 encounter at Parnell Park.
With both teams having already confirmed their qualification to the last eight, the result didn’t prove fatal to Cuala’s title defence but an unconvincing campaign that included laboured wins over Thomas Davis and Setanta has certainly dampened expectations.
A fourth-minute goal from Sean Baxter set Na Fianna on their way and while Con O’Callaghan hit back with three points from play, the concession of a second goal to AJ Murphy in injury time left Cuala trailing by 2-11 to 0-12 at the break.
Nine points over the hour from Colin Currie kept Na Fianna in control and they settled the issue when Donal Burke fired home a third goal in the 49th minute.
Cuala responded through a brace of goals by Sean Moran but they arrived too late to rescue them.
In Group 2, goals in either half from Pearce Christie and Paul Ryan helped Ballyboden St Enda’s to account for Craobh Chiaráin by 2-20 to 2-10 at Páirc Uí Mhurchú.
A Cian Derwin goal in the 14th minute saw Craobh keep in touch after a dominant Boden opening but Christie’s goal three minutes before the break saw the hosts hold a 1-11 to 1-6 interval lead.
Six unanswered points in the third quarter effectively settled the issue as Ryan netted in the 49th minute to take his personal tally to 1-11 by the final whistle.
Kilmacud Crokes confirmed top spot in the group as they eased past Scoil Uí Chonaill by 3-23 to 1-8 at Silver Park.
Oisin O’Rorke netted in the first-half for Crokes and they pulled away after the break, adding further goals through Fionn Ó Ceallaigh and Stephen Veale.
Yesterday afternoon saw issues in Group 3 decided with Faughs advancing to the last eight on points difference following their narrow 0-19 to 1-14 win over 2019 finalists St Brigid’s in O’Toole Park.
A Donnacha Ryan goal helped Brigid’s to a slender 1-9 to 0-11 interval but Faughs tightened up immeasurably after the break with Carl O’Mahony’s ten points over the hour proving crucial by the final whistle.