Gritty Cuala dig in to retain Dublin SHC title

Kilmacud Crokes fight back from a nine point deficit but holders refuse to be beaten

Cuala celebrate retaining the Dublin SHC title. Photograph: Inpho/Ryan Byrne

Cuala celebrate retaining the Dublin SHC title. Photograph: Inpho/Ryan Byrne

 

Cuala 1-15 Kilmacud Crokes 0-15

Lesser teams might have thrown in the towel at Parnell Park where Cuala earned back-to-back Dublin SHC titles in the hardest way imaginable.

Two points down with six minutes to go, they’d hardly hurled a ball since the first-half and looked on in horror as a nine-point advantage morphed into a deficit.

History is rarely made easily though and the club’s first ever successful title defence was secured with six late points to just one from Crokes.

When leaders were required, Cuala ultimately provided them with Colm Cronin scoring two of those late points and finishing with 1-3 overall.

County colleague Mark Schutte was excellent too, making one great catch in those closing minutes and laying the ball off to David Treacy for his fifth point of the day.

Cuala can’t waste much time celebrating the landmark win as they’re back on AIB Leinster club championship duty next Sunday with a quarter-final tie against Borris-Kilcotton of Laois.

They’re on the easier side of the draw and will believe they can at least return to the provincial final where they slipped up last year.

Leinster seemed a long way off during the second-half of this encounter though as Crokes turned the screw and hit eight points without reply at one stage, forcing Cuala to go to the coalface with their bare hands.

“The resilience these lads have shown over the last two years has been huge and we really had to dig deep again,” said Schutte, who finished with two points.

“But we always had faith in ourselves and knew that even with the tide going against us in the last few minutes that we could grind it out and thankfully we did.”

Oisin O’Rorke finished with 10 points and was influential in Crokes’ second-half revival but hit two terrible wides in the first-half. They looked rattled by Cuala’s great start that saw the Dalkey men race 1-5 to 0-0 clear with Cronin scoring a fine solo goal just four minutes in.

Cuala led 1-8 to 0-4 at half-time but everything changed after the restart as Crokes returned with gusto and reeled off those eight points. A resurgent O’Rorke hit four of them as the Glenalbyn side moved 0-14 to 1-9 up after 54 minutes.

Substitute Dillon Mulligan was influential and struck three second-half points. There were points too from Fergal Whitely and Caolan Conway as the battle of the south-side outfits tipped in Crokes’ favour.

But just as Cuala looked out on their feet, and out of ideas, they somehow conjured their best form and reeled off the six scores, sealing a slightly flattering three-point win.

Cuala: S Brennan; O Gough, C O’Callaghan, S Timlin; J Malone, P Schutte, J Sheanan; S Moran (0-1), D O’Connell; C Waldron, C Cronin (1-3), D Treacy (0-5, 4f); S Treacy (0-1), N Kenny (0-3), M Schutte (0-2). Subs: C O’Callaghan for Waldron (43).

Kilmacud Crokes: M Collins; N Corcoran, R Walsh, J Clinton; B O’Carroll, J Doughan, C MacGabhann; R O’Loughlin, N O’Riordain; R O’Dwyer, O Rorke (0-10, 5f, 2 65), C Conway (0-1); F Whitely (0-1), R O’Carroll, S McGrath. Subs: D Mulligan (0-3) for O’Loughlin (30).

Referee: S Stack (Parnells).

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