Cuala showed the hallmark of champions when doing just enough to edge near neighbours Kilmacud Crokes by three points in a disappointing Dublin SHC final at Parnell Park on Saturday afternoon.
Kilmacud Crokes 0-13
The holders failed to sparkle for the large part but the confidence derived from their recent successes on both the county and national stage proved telling in the closing stages as a brace of later David Treacy points secured their third successive title.
“It was always going to be tough against Crokes and they are a fine team,” said Cuala manager Mattie Kenny. “They have a lot of pacy young lads and both defences played with an extra man or two at times so it kept the scoring down.
“It was the type of match where every score counted but thankfully, we got the few scores at the finish to stretch the lead out to three points,” he added.
Cuala fell behind early following scores from Lorcan McMullan and although Treacy opened their account in the ninth minute, they fell further behind as Fergal Whitely and Sean McGrath both tagged on scores for the challengers.
However, despite playing with a strong wind at their backs, it was a full 20 minutes before Kilmacud added to their tally as Cuala took complete control with Sean Moran and Cian O’Callaghan in commanding form in their defence.
Mark Schutte and Treacy availed of the greater degree of possession coming Cuala’s way and they seized the lead in the 18th minute as Darragh O’Connell raced onto a speculative Colm Cronin delivery to fire past the helpless Eoin Dalton.
Treacy and Con O’Callaghan added points to re-affirm Cuala’s control before late points by O’Rorke and Whitely helped trim Crokes’ arrears to two points by the interval.
Kilmacud maintained that momentum on the restart and they levelled matters by the 36th minute thanks to two frees by O’Rorke.
Dalton then came to their rescue by saving a Treacy penalty two minutes later but gradually, the champions began to threaten in attack as they opened up a three-point lead thanks to Treacy, Colum Sheanon and Con O’Callaghan.
Cronin added two points in the final quarter to offset scores at the opposite end from Ross O’Carroll and Whitely as Cuala kicked successfully for home with Treacy’s decisive late contribution.
“We are very proud of the performance of the players,” said Kilmacud manager Ollie Baker. “We had a couple of chances that we didn’t take and maybe Cuala were just able to pick off their points a little bit easier in the second-half and that helped them to get over the line.”
Scorers for Cuala:
D Treacy (0-6, 4 frees, 0-1 ‘65’), Con O’Callaghan (0-3), D O’Connell (1-0), C Cronin (0-2), C Sheanon, M Schutte (0-1 each).
O O’Rorke (0-7, 5 frees), F Whitely (0-3), R O’Carroll, L McMullan, S McGrath (0-1 each).
S Brennan; O Gough, Cian O’Callaghan, S Timlin; J Sheanon, S Moran, P Schutte; J Malone, D O’Connell; S Treacy, C Sheanon, D Treacy; C Cronin, Con O’Callaghan, M Schutte.
S Stapleton for M Schutte (41), C Waldron for D Treacy (59), N Kenny for C Sheanon (65), D Treacy for Cronin (66).
E Dalton; N Corcoran, B O’Carroll, R O’Loughlin; R Murphy, C Mac Gabhann, D Kelly; L McMullan, R O’Carroll; C Conway, F Whitely, N Ó Riordáin; O O’Rorke, S McGrath, B O’Rorke.
R Hayes for Ó Riordáin (38), D Mulligan for B O’Rorke (44), S O’Dwyer for McGrath (52), J Gibbons for O’Loughlin (59).
F Gaffney (Na Fianna).
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