Cuala’s double double

by James Hendicott

CUALA selector JP Byrne has dubbed his side’s Dublin county final win over Kilmacud Crokes as the “clichéd game of two halves,” after the sides mirrored each other before and after the break in a dramatic, fast-swinging finale.
“The lads work rate and intensity got us off to a great start, while Crokes had a pretty slow start. Work rate and intensity are something we push for in every game, and they really paid off for us in the opening 20 minutes,” Byrne told GazetteSport.
“Uncharacteristically, Crokes missed a few – they had three or four chances in the early stages they didn’t put away, and we had a few more. It was a really strange game. While we were happy with the start, you wouldn’t normally see that many misses from either side.”
Cuala found themselves eight points up before momentum swung coming into halftime, “We knew we wouldn’t have it all our own way against a team as good as Crokes,” Byrne argued. “They really took control going into halftime, and they took that momentum into the second half. They pretty much did to us what we did to them at the start of the game. The difference, ultimately, was the goal.”
Cuala eventually won the final by a scoreline of 1-15 to 0-15, but not before Crokes recovered from their deficit to briefly lead the holders. Cuala’s win grabs them an astonishing ‘double double’ – consecutive Dublin league and championship wins.
“It was possibly a harder challenge this time,” Byrne argued. “It’s a different battle as holders; teams put more thought into setting up to play you and know exactly what you’re all about. It’s no surprise to them. When we won last year, it was just happiness. This year it still had that but also a much greater element of relief.”
Cuala go on to play Borris Kilcotton, champions of Laois, who took home their first ever county hurling title in October. The Laois county title is named after a Kilcotton player, Bob O’Keeffe, but his former team are something of an unknown to the Dublin champions.
“Once you get outside Dublin, you don’t know as much about your opponents – obviously Crokes are just down the road from us, but this is a different thing,” Byrne said of the Leinster knockout game, which will take place at Parnell Park this Sunday.
“They’re obviously a serious hurling team, as they put up 2-26 in their final. We’re going to have to be just as good to get past them. We know a little bit about them, and we’ll spend this week trying to find out a bit more,” he explained.
Having lost out to Wexford’s Oulart the Ballagh in the Leinster Final in 2015, the Dalkey club insist they are taking one game at a time as they hit Leinster for the second year in a row.

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