Dublin star Danny Sutcliffe expecting Cuala to bridge 36-year gap in Leinster club hurling final
DUBLIN star Danny Sutcliffe has backed Cuala to become the first side from the capital to win a Leinster club hurling title since 1979.
Cuala, UCD (three times) and Ballyboden St Enda's have all fallen at the final hurdle since Crumlin's win 36 years ago, but the Dalkey side hold favouritism ahead of Sunday's final with Oulart- The Ballagh.
Having been on the wrong end of a 10-point beating in the county final with St Jude's, Sutcliffe knows Cuala's potential more than most and expects them to do the business.
“They have a lot of young guys there who don’t have much experience of losing. They’ve won nearly the whole way up so it’s second nature to them," he said.
"To comfortably beat Coolderry at this time of year and come through a tight game the last day against Clara was exceptional. It would be great for Dublin hurling if they go all the way.
“They’re afraid of no-one. They’re in great shape. And they’ve blown everyone away, both physically and more importantly, with their hurling. And I personally think they’re going to win.”
Sutcliffe rubbished suggestions that they were soft and warned the Wexford champions to be on guard saying Cuala are a brilliant hurling side with huge fitness levels.
“They’re not soft. I’ve played with them for years. Sure they beat us well in the county final and we’re apparently known as being a small bit rough!," the former All-Star quipped.
"They fear no one and they're an expertly conditioned side. The first mistake the country teams make is thinking they don’t have the hurling but they certainly do.
“You have two or three top inter-county forwards on a club team. You have Darragh (O’Connell) there and they’re missing Paul Schutte and they’re still getting through games so you can see the quality that they have."
Their attack is shooting the lights out and what has impressed Sutcliffe most is that variety of players stepping up to the plate in different games.
“They have everyone fit, they never really had that before," he said. "There was always someone out or someone injured. They said ‘there’s no excuse now’ and there wasn’t and they won.
“Someone different is doing it for them every day. I know in the final Mark Schutte was kept to a point. Seán Treacy got the goals. Then the last day, Colm Cronin got Man of the Match.
"Usually with a club team at this stage of year, they have one or two men doing it for them. But they’re mixing it very well. And it means they don’t have to concentrate on Mark. The bit of variety up front is doing well for them.”