Con O’Callaghan on fire as Cuala claim their first ever Leinster title
O’Loughlin Gaels 1-16
Kevin O’Brien reports from O’Moore Park, Portlaoise.
CUALA BECAME THE first Dublin side since Crumlin in 1980 to win the Leinster club hurling title today.
It was an easier than expected win over Kilkenny side O’Loughlin Gaels, who couldn’t live with Cuala’s lively attack. O’Loughlins relied heavily on frees from county player Mark Bergin and, although they scored a late goal, they never looked like winning.
Cuala looked like they would coast home in the final ten minutes until O’Loughlins wing-forward Danny Loughnane found the net with a daisycutter to leave us in for a thrilling finale.
But the two-in-a-row Dublin champions had enough about them to see the game out and a late goal from Mark Scutte put the icing on the cake.
Cuala arrived into O’Moore Park hoping to end Dublin’s poor record in the provincial final. Of their previous nine finalists, the Dublin champions had lost eight.
They set up with O’Callaghan on his own in the full-forward line and the Colm Cronin-Mark Schutte axis close to the half-forward line. The half-forward trio of David Treacy, Jake Malone and Cian Waldron withdrew deep into the middle third.
Colm Cronin’s goal five minutes into the first half send the Dublin champions into a lead they wouldn’t surrender. O’Callaghan was the provider for the three-pointer, and he waas twice fouled in the opening half for pointed frees.
David Treacy wasn’t firing on all cylinders from the placed balls for Cuala, but he still managed to hit 0-5 from frees in the opening 30 minutes.
The Treacy brothers, David and Sean, had a goal chance each saved by Stephen Murphy, but O’Loughlins could only keep them out for so long. O’Callaghan finished to the net on 21 minutes.
Comerford and Bergin both kept the scoreboard ticking over for O’Loughlins, but they trailed by 2-8 to 0-9 at the interval.
O’Loughlins had a decent start to the second period, hitting five points inside the third quarter. Only one of those was from play though, and it was a goal the Kilkenny champions required turn things around.
Bergin and Treacy were both flawless from frees in the second half, while Cuala were unlucky not to find the net a third time when Murphy denied Cronin again.
Kerry man Darragh O’Connell and O’Callaghan both chipped in with scores to leave Cuala in front by seven in the closing stages. Then arrived a lifeline for O’Loughlins with Danny Loughnane’s well-taken goal in the 57th minute.
It left us in for a cagey end to the game as Cuala dropped bodies back to protect their lead. A late goal from Schutte sealed the victory.
Scorers for Cuala: David Treacy 0-11 (0-1 sideline, 0-9 frees), Con O’Callaghan 1-4, Colm Cronin 1-0, Mark Schutte 1-1, Darragh O’Connell 0-2 (0-1 free), Cian Waldron 0-1,
of the team
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Scorers for O’Loughlin Gaels: Mark Bergin 0-10 (0-8 frees), Danny Loughnane 1-0, Martin Comerford 0-2, Alan Geoghegan 0-1, Stephen Murphy 0-1 (free), Mark Kelly and Alan Geoghegan 0-1 each.
1. Sean Brennan
4. Simon Timlin
7. John Sheanon
1. Stephen Murphy
2. Anthony Forristal
3. Andy Kearns
4. Eddie Kearns
5. Alan O’Brien
6. Brian Hogan
7. Huw Lawlor
8. Paddy Butler
9. Paddy Deegan
10. Alan Geoghegan
11. Mark Kelly
12. Danny Loughnane
13. Sammy Johnston
14. Mark Bergin
15. Martin Comerford
17. Shane Mahony (for Andy Kearns, 26 mins)
21. Paddy Cantwell (for Paddy Butler, half-time)
19. Sean Bolger (for Sammy Johnston, 40 mins)
Referee: Michael Murtagh (Westmeath)
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