Cuala will aim to put last year’s Carlow nightmare to bed…

by James Hendicott

Cuala’s comfortable Leinster quarter-final victory over Borris Kilcotton over the weekend has set up a return for the Dalkey side to a place that will have left some tough memories from last year’s Leinster campaign: Carlow’s Netwatch Cullen Park.
Widely tipped as favourites going into the Leinster finale last year, Cuala were beaten by impassioned Wexford club Oulart-The-Ballagh in the same ground, with Oulart-The-Ballagh finally putting the misery of four Leinster final defeats behind them by a score of 2-13 to 0-13. Cuala had earlier dispatched much fancied Kilkenny champions Clara.
Speaking of the return to Carlow after Cuala’s quarter final win, Darragh O’Connell said: “There is a certain degree in the back of your mind that there is a little bit of unfinished business. Last year we were very disappointed leaving Dr Cullen Park, so that’s certainly in the back of your mind as you’re looking forward. But you have to put that to the side too and just focus on what’s coming next.”
Opposition St Mullin’s seem up for the challenge of facing the Dublin champions, with star man Marty Kavanagh telling KCLR “Just to hear that even, a Leinster semi-final at home against Cuala, Leinster finalists last year, is huge.”
The Carlow club have suggested they’ll be underdogs on the day, but are optimistic, and expect a big turn out from the local hurling community, as there has been for Leinster games in recent years.
Carlow sides are not traditionally successful at Leinster level, with Kilkenny and Offaly clubs traditionally the ones to watch. Mount Leinster Rangers upset the applecart two years ago, however: after having been the first Carlow club to ever make the provincial final, they went on to win it.
Cuala’s semi-final Championship hurling fixture has been confirmed for Sunday, November 20 at 2pm.
Meanwhile, eight Cuala players have been named in the Dublin senior hurling panel for 2017, though given the club’s continued involvement in the provincial championship, there is already some speculation about whether all the players will all be available come New year.
The Dublin champions have seen Oisin Gough, Sean Moran, Jake Malone, Cian O’Callaghan, Darragh O’Connell, Mark Schutte, Paul Schutte and David Treacy included in a young-looking panel of 38 players called up for the boys in blue.
A further twelve players have been placed in to a ‘development’ panel, which will form the back-up to the senior side, with none of the development panel expected to feature in the under-21 championship early in the season.
Dublin boss Ger Cunningham said his panel selection has an eye on the future, telling “With this young squad, and with Dublin winning Leinster minor and under-21, we feel we can develop and grow the potential within Dublin hurling.”

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