CUALA boss Mattie Kenny is one step away from leading the club to a second successive All-Ireland Senior Club Hurling Championship title thanks to last Saturday’s 1-17 to 0-11 win over Liam Mellows in Semple Stadium.
“We’re delighted and fortunate to be able to get back to Croke Park,” he said in the wake of the victory. It’s the pinnacle of every club hurlers’ career to represent his club on All-Ireland final day.”
They will face 2016 champions Na Piarsaigh in the decider on St Patrick’s Day, hoping to become the first club since Portumna in 2009 to retain the title.
While Cuala finished nine points clear, Kenny added that it was never as comfortable as the final scoreline suggested, especially in ice-cold, wet and windy conditions as it took time to hit full flow.
“Ten minutes before half-time, I felt Mellows came back into it and the game was there for the taking so we had to be that bit more aggressive in the second half.
“Our last competitive game was December 3; we had a couple of challenge games cancelled due to the weather. It was so cold and wet that we weren’t getting the fluency into our hurling.
“I felt our hurling wasn’t as sharp as it normally is but, in the second half, we came into it more, carried it more, took them on more and got the scores that gave us a cushion.”
Player of the match Con O’Callaghan hit four points from play while David Treacy helped his side pull clear in the second-half with seven points, while substitute Brian Fitzgerald fired a late goal for the Leinster champions.
They did so without Paul Schutte who did not recover from injury in time for the tie. Kenny says they will reassess where he is at with the hope he can add to their line-up for the final in March.
Asked whether he thinks being reigning champions and the know-how that brings will play a big factor against Na Piarsaigh, Kenny was unsure how big an impact it will make in the grand scheme of things.
“It’s hard to put your finger on it. What does experience mean? It doesn’t make it any easier for you.
“Experience tells you that every game is a banana skin. Every game brings its own challenges.
“Our mantra is ‘one game at a time’. We always just prepare for the next game. And maybe experience has taught us that- you don’t know what day you could be taken out.”