Cuala storm back to Dublin senior final

by Cóilín Duffy
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Dublin senior hurling semi-final
Cuala 3-21
St Vincent’s 1-16

CUALA are back in the Dublin senior A hurling championship final after failing to make last year’s decider, thanks to an 11-point win over St Vincent’s at Parnell Park on Sunday.

The Dalkey outfit lost last year’s semi-final to southside rivals Kilmacud Crokes, but had a pretty unblemished record in the previous four years, including back-to-back All-Ireland titles.

Cuala leaked an early goal in Sunday’s last-four clash, but responded well to quickly take a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Brian Bolger delivered a first-minute goal but Cuala soon showed their experience as the twice All-Ireland winning side got to grips with this contest.

Cuala moved 2-13 to 1-6 ahead at the break, with Mark Schutte netting their goals.

The first arrived as a response to Bolger’s effort, as Schutte played a tight angled ball across from the wing, as Vins’ keeper Dara De Poire struggled to control in the third minute.

Con O’Callaghan put Cuala ahead with the first of his five points, and from then on the Dalkey outfit wouldn’t trail.

Schutte’s second goal ensured a 2-3 to 1-0 lead, and despite the efforts of Conor Burke, Johnny Walsh, Cian McBride and John Hetherton, Cuala moved 10 points clear at half-time.

Vins cut the gap to seven points inside four minutes of the restart with Rian McBride and Hetherton (2) on target, but this was as close as it got.

Cuala had that little bit extra in the final quarter, as Colm Cronin completed their hat-trick in the 51st minute.

Despite the win, Cuala manager Willie Maher said his side have plenty to improve on.

“Semi-finals are there to be won, we won it. But I have an underwhelming feeling of just disappointment.

“We didn’t play well today, we have a huge amount of work on. Vincent’s scored, they opened us up twice, particularly on puck-outs or on the throw-in. We’ve just lots to work on.

“Goals are very important at this time of the year, particularly with pitches getting a little bit heavier. It was a fine pitch today, but there was a little bit of rain yesterday which slowed things down a bit.

“Goals are big scores in club championship hurling and football now. We are delighted we got three today, and the two at the start in particular were great.”

Cuala will meet St Brigid’s in the decider, after the Russell Park outfit booked their place in a first final since 2003, with a 2-17 to 1-13 win over Craobh Chiarain in Sunday’s opening semi-final.

Maher is well familiar with the Castleknock and Blanchardstown men.

“Brigid’s have a huge amount of athleticism and hurling,” he said.

“We played them in the league, we played them in the Championship in our group stages, so I suppose we know them fairly well.

“They are a really good team, and a good management team. And they are a fine proud club here in Dublin and they’ll be driving for everything in the county final in two weeks and we’ll be ready for them.”

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