Schutte believes Cuala have learned valuable lessons
Published 22/11/2016 | 02:30
Cuala sharpshooter Mark Schutte believes the Dublin champions are a better side than the one that went down in last year's Leinster club SHC final.
Mattie Kenny's men are preparing their second successive provincial decider after seeing off Carlow champions St Mullins last Sunday, and Dublin star Schutte insists they have improved for that experience.
"We have definitely learned things," Schutte said, as they prepare to face Kilkenny champions O'Loughlin Gaels on Sunday week.
"Last year we got caught with the conditions but we probably handled it (there), it was freezing. Stuff like that we have learned.
"The squad is a lot stronger, we have coped with injuries - Nicky Kenny was one of our best players in the Dublin championship and lads like Con (O'Callaghan) have come in. The squad probably has strengthened in the last 12 months."
That maturity was reflected in their display against St Mullins when they survived the concession of an early goal to take a three-point lead in at the break, going on to run out convincing winners.
"We were well aware of the challenge coming down here (to Carlow)," added Schutte (pictured).
"Ballyboden got caught a couple of years ago, O'Tooles too back in 2002, so we knew we were in for a huge challenge so we came down fully prepared and we knew we had to get over a huge hurdle."
Schutte admitted that winning their first Dublin title since 1994 last year might have overshadowed Cuala's assault on Leinster, even though they only fell at the last hurdle.
"We sat down at the start of 2015 and we were so desperate to get the donkey off our back and win a Dublin championship," he explained. "We did that and it was such a relief, and the Leinster championship was a new experience.
"We were probably a bit more experienced this year coming into it, we prepared better this year than we did last year. We know experience is invaluable at this time of year.
"O'Loughlin Gaels have won a Leinster championship in the last few years as well so they are very experienced at this time of year too."
Cuala will go into the clash with the Kilkenny city side with some confidence having seen off the Kilkenny champions on their way to the decider 12 months ago.
"Kilkenny hurling is going to be the standard bearer in Leinster championships but we are not going to pay too much attention to who is favourites," said Schutte.
"We'll just focus on ourselves, review this game and then over the next few weeks prepare for O'Loughlin Gaels.
"O'Loughlin Gaels are a quality team, it's a Leinster final so you are not going to play an easy team there. We have looked at ourselves more than anyone else to this point and it was the same in the (Dublin) championship final.
"People were saying it was a big local rivalry against Kilmacud but we just focused on ourselves and getting the best from ourselves.
"O'Loughlin Gaels are a huge challenge and we'll have to prepare adequately for that."