THE bridesmaids finally became the brides on Saturday as Cuala collected the Intermediate Championship at the third time of asking at the Parnells grounds in Coolock.
The lack of a working scoreboard and no match programme aside, this final certainly went off without a hitch with the pitch standing up well to the inclement conditions that had hit the capital with such vengeance last week. For Fingallians their hopes of making a quick return to the senior grade were dashed although you wouldn't begrudge Cuala their moment of glory after last year's heartbreaking defeat to Skerries in the final. And after losing in the 2010 decider to Brigids, It all went right on the day for the Dalkey men with goalkeeper Darren McBrien proving the hero on the day.
Taking a few leaves out of Stephen Cluxton's notebook, McBrien struck over four sublime 45s for Cuala in the second half. Fingallians had their opportunties but never got the rub of the green with David Killeen's late goal from a free was scant consolation for the Swords men in the end. And speaking on Monday, Fin's manager, Alan Hanrahan, believed the game was won and lost to a large extent in the first half. 'We had seven scoring chances early on and if we had converted a few of those we might have seen a different outcome,' he said. 'But I felt we performed well enough particularly in defence.
They were dropping a lot of high ball in which was causing us trouble and their goalkeeper was just knocking over those 45's at vital times.' 'Its tough going on the lads and I felt particularly sorry for Donal Keane who took defeat very hard. He strives for perfection and he was a bit critical of his own performance in the first half but I think he has probably done more than anyone to get us to the final. If I was a Dublin manager I would certainly be making enquiries after him.
'As for current Dubs player, Paul Flynn, it proved a frustrating afternoon, the DCU Sigerson cup winning player at one stage exchanging strong words with a Cuala defender who kept tight reins on the 2011 All-Star. Overall Fins were pushed to the limit with Eoin Collins failing to make it out for the second half after failing to shrug the effects of a hip injury that was re-ignited early on in the game. That first half saw Fins begin very brightly and they came very close to snatching an early goal. Gary Donnelly hsent in a diagonal ball with Flynn diverting the ball into the path of David Killeen, who placed the ball across the keeper but incredibly somehow managed to miss the target.
It was a goal that Fingallians could have done with and having survived that scare, Cuala drove on to open up a 0-7 to 0-1 lead with Luke Keating and Conor O'Brien very prominent. Fins were then facing an uphill battle when off Mick Fitzsimons ball, Niall Carthy beat Rossa Kelleher with an expert finish. A Donal Farrell point was to have a galvanising effect on Fins with skipper Danny Campion collecting from midfield before registering a fine point on the run.
Then Flynn sent over one of his trademark points from the right to cut Cuala's lead to six at the break 1-7 to 0-4. Two more frees from Farrell saw Fins make further inroads before McBrien sent over the first of his scores from the dead ball. McBrien then produced a good save to deny Flynn and from there Cuala tightened their grip of the game with Paul Schútte scoring almost immediately after his introduction to restore Cuala's six point lead once more. And with Dublin hurler David Treacy proving an able performer at half back, Cuala gradually pulled away with a series of 45s from McBrien before Killeen rifled home a late free for the Fingal men.
FINGALLIANS: Rossa Kelleher, Peter Foley, Peter Daly, Ray McMenamin, Ryan Quinlan, Donal Keane, Gary Donnelly, Danny Campion 0-1, Eoin Collins, Barry Clarke 0-1, David Killeen 1-0, Paul Flynn 0-2, Donal Farrell 0-7 (0-2f), Eddie Sweeney. Subs: Ciaran McLoughlin for Collins (29), Cian Kelleher for McLoughlin (40), Neil Dawson for Ray McMenamin (59).