Con O’Callaghan’s display, boost for Dublin hurling and the new All-Ireland favourites
CUALA DEFEATED KILKENNY champions O’Loughlin Gaels to take the 2016 Leinster club hurling title today. Read the match report of Cuala’s 3-19 to 1-16 victory here.
Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO
1. Huge boost for Dublin hurling
Cuala’s first ever Leinster title comes at a vital juncture for the small ball code in Dublin. It’s been a difficult year for the hurling fraternity in the county. Ger Cunningham has been hit with some stinging criticism as several members of the 2013 Leinster champions either opted out or were omitted from his 2017 panel.
A first provincial crown since Crumlin’s in 1980 is a welcome boost. Important county stars like Colm Cronin, Mark Schutte and David Treacy, who posted 0-11, all gave displays which are encouraging heading into 2017. Of course the victory means Cunningham will begin the National League campaign without the Cuala contingent, but that all comes with the cost of victory.
Source: Colm O’Neill/INPHO
2. Con O’Callaghan’s fine performance
Yet again, Con O’Callaghan gave Cunningham a tantalising look at his enormous potential in this code. The 20-year-old UCD student scored 1-4 and had a hand in Cuala’s first goal. His direct, powerful running also drew fouls for two converted frees.
After a summer on the periphery of the Dublin football squad, O’Callaghan didn’t even start the county final for the Dalkey outfit. But once he got his place in the team for the Leinster quarter-final against Borris-Kilcotton of Laois, he scored 4-3. Then he dispatched 1-3 against Carlow champions St Mullins in the last four.
It’s remarkable, but in the space of three starts, much of Cuala’s game plan is now tailor-made to suit O’Callaghan’s game. He acts as a lone inside forward and Cuala try to pick him out with balls into either corner. Then the runners come from deep, creating goal scoring opportunities.
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O’Callaghan has now posted 6-10 in just three provincial games and once he gets the ball in his hand, his first thought is to probe for a goal. Dublin’s answer to Shane O’Donnell. It’s just a pity he won’t puck a ball for most of the upcoming summer.
Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO
3. Favourites to beat Slaughtneil
Cuala will no doubt enjoy the next few of days, but soon enough their focus will turn to February and Slaughtneil in the All-Ireland semi-final. Having defeated the 2010 Leinster champions, Cuala have been installed as favourites to go all the way next St Patrick’s Day.
The Dublin side have an easier route to the final, against Ulster winners Slaughtneil, who have 12 starters also preparing for a football semi-final. Cuala showed their experience and nous with a comfortable win over a very good O’Loughlin Gaels team.
- Cuala v Slaughtneil, All-Ireland club SHC semi-final, February 4 2017
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