Friday 20 October 2017

Hedge Funds, milking cows and celebrity bainisteoirs - The incredible Cuala story

All Ireland Hurling Champions Cuala at their homecoming in Dalkey tonight.
Pic: Justin Farrelly.
All Ireland Hurling Champions Cuala at their homecoming in Dalkey tonight. Pic: Justin Farrelly.

Conor Neville

Cuala's lopsided victory in the All-Ireland club hurling final generated a predictable reaction.

Anyone with even the mildest awareness of GAA twitter 'bantz' knew that typing 'Dalkey' into the twitter machine would yield a series of results about cows and the milking process and what not.

GAA success has been making Ferris Beullers out of dairy farmers since the 1992 Munster Final.

Of course, these days, Marty's famous cry is only invoked ironically and simply regurgitating the line is fairly passe by now, though a few of the big names on social media have still gotten some mileage out of it.

It's all about regional variation in this day and age. Right now, all over Ireland, there are folk hunched over their laptops, fingers rubbing against their temple, trying to coin the perfect "There won't be a..." tweet about Dalkey's victory. We wish them well.

RTE Sport's Damian O'Meara offered up a particular favourite, suggesting that there won't be a hedge fund managed in the Dalkey tonight. Hedge funds be damned. For today, Cuala offered up a different kind of St. Patrick's Day massacre. 

Captain Oisin Gough All Ireland Hurling Champions Cuala at their homecoming in Dalkey tonight.
Pic: Justin Farrelly.
Captain Oisin Gough All Ireland Hurling Champions Cuala at their homecoming in Dalkey tonight. Pic: Justin Farrelly.

Amazingly, Tony Kelly, the 2013 Hurler of the Year and arguably the most glittering talent in the sport, was held scoreless. On top of that, his superb marker John Sheanon chipped in with a score himself as Cuala built up a six point lead at half-time.

Players like David Treacy, Colm Cronin, Cian O'Callaghan and Kerry-born Man of the Match Darragh O'Connell all turned in splendid performances.   

It's sometimes easy to forget how far Dublin hurling has advanced in the past decade. The last time a Dublin team won an All-Ireland hurling title of any description, Cuala weren't even in existence. In December, they became the first Dublin club to win the Leinster title since Crumlin in 1979. Crumlin were subsequently battered by the Antrim champions in the semi-final in Croke Park.

Cuala were founded in 1974, the same year Dublin football was spectacularly revived under Kevin Heffernan. And their first All-Ireland winner, the late Mick Holden, a gnarly corner back on the 12 apostles side of 1983, was one of Heffo's all-time favourite players.

Cillian Sheanon, left, and Colum Sheanon of Cuala celebrate their win. Photo: Sportsfile
Cillian Sheanon, left, and Colum Sheanon of Cuala celebrate their win. Photo: Sportsfile

It's been an extraordinary rise. To date their greatest misstep occurred when they agreed to let George Hook become their manager in the first series of Celebrity Bainisteoir.

Most celebrity bainisteoirs, in recognition of the fact that they were more celebrities than bainisteoirs, tended to be slow about dispensing bollockings and imposing their philosophy on the team. George, as a former USA and Connacht rugby coach (albeit in a time when provincial rugby was the poor relation), was rather more ambitious and proceeded to become enraged during a sloppily executed training drill. It was the closest the series came to a 'Brian Clough at Elland Road' moment.

The hurlers may now struggle to hold onto their manager who will surely lead an inter-county side some day, possibly his own. Mattie Kenny was a selector on the Galway side that reached the All-Ireland final in 2012 and then departed after they mysteriously failed to fire in the 2013 championship. He has applied for the inter-county job since but not got a look-in.

His phenomenal success with Cuala over the last two years will have seen his stock rise immeasurably. 

One thing is for certain.

Now that Dalkey have won a hurling All-Ireland, we can rest assured that somewhere out there, in the betting shops of the midlands, some daring punter is asking for a price on St. Kieran's of Kilkenny winning the Leinster Schools Senior Cup before 2030.

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