Cuala’s perfect Feile finale over Whitehall

by Gazette Reporter

CUALA’S young charges bounced back from an opening defeat to Whitehall Colmcilles to claim a dramatic Division 4 Feile title as they beat the same opposition in the final at Tallaght Stadium last Sunday.
The Dalkey club’s road to the final started on Saturday morning with a defeat to a very strong Whitehall Colmcille team by 5-4 to 2-8.
Ruadhan Mac Giolla Phadraig was a rock in defence in the tie, as he was all weekend, and the side quickly following this setback in the best possible way to win against a gallant Fingal Ravens, 4-8 to 1-4.
It set up a key third group match with local rivals Kilmacud Crokes with both teams needing a win this match to progress to the semi-final.
In a ding dong encounter, Cuala – powered by Luca O Siochain, who covered every blade of the Thomastown grass, and Ross Mason – found themselves two points up with a minute to play.
Disaster struck when Kilmacud scored a breakaway goal. Incredibly, the Cuala boys – though exhausted in their third match of the day – engineered one more attack which O Siochain finished off to the net for a 3-7 to 3-5 win.
Coming second in the group to Whitehall meant Cuala had to travel to Blakestown to face mighty Ballyboden, who had topped their group.
They faced a real challenge with some of their players carrying injuries but a three-point lead at half time soon became seven points with Cormac O’Floinn dominating from centre back, cleaning up ball after ball and launching repeated attacks.
The Cuala boys dug deep – buoyed by their supporters, whose numbers had swelled with the arrival of their B team players and parents after their own Feile had ended – and they dominated the last ten minutes to win by five points 2-9 – 1-7.
It set up a final with their nemesis Whitehall, again. Played in the Tallaght Stadium, the tight pitch suited the solid defence and quick turnover style that Cuala play. Micheal Mac Mathuna and Conall O Drisceoil – both doubtful starters after Saturday’s wear and tear – played key roles.
The latter helped to blunt the much vaunted Whiteahll attack and the former won lots of ball and ran at the Whitehall defence like the Roadrunner.
Morton Ainscough played through the pain barrier and made key plays time after time. The half time score was 3-6 to 4-1 in Cuala’s favour.
But they faced into the wind for the second half and soon found themselves six points down with time running out. But the unconquerable resolve which they had shown all weekend showed again in the way they clawed themselves back into the game.
Despite missing three scorable frees, they dug out a one point lead and held on until the final whistle for a 4-10 to 6-3 success.
Cuala’s Player of the Tournament Luca O Siochain accepted the cup and the crowd headed for Dalkey for the celebrations.

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