Cuala have a bit extra

Kilmacud made to pay in added time of minor epic

Ronan Mac Lochlainn

CUALA 2-14


(After extra-time)

Cuala produced a dominant extra-time display when deservedly overcoming Kilmacud Crokes by eight points in their Dublin Minor 'A' Football Championship final at Chanel College on Sunday lunchtime.

The victory was all the more impressive as Cuala played the bulk of the game with just 14 players following the unnecessary dismissal of centre-forward Andrew Murphy in the 24th minute.

However, once their full complement was restored for extra-time, the Dalkey outfit always looked the more likely winners and they landed a critical body blow when substitute Kyle Braine netted after a quintessentially surging run from the exceptional Martin Cahalane.

Cahalane was one of many heroes for Cuala, with half-back partner Seán Drummond typically masterful at the heart of his defence, while, in attack, both Con O'Callaghan and Cillian Sheanon showed admirable leadership throughout the absorbing encounter.

Despite falling a point behind in the second minute to Dara Mullin's free, Cuala opened brightly, with a foul on Callaghan allowing dual player Seán Treacy to level matters within a minute.

An excellent pass from Murphy prompted the lead score for Cuala two minutes later as wing-back Cian Byrne fed Sheanon for a well-taken score and O'Callaghan doubled his side's lead with a close-in free soon after.

Their momentum stalled somewhat from that point, however, as Crokes gradually settled through the efforts of Sam Shovlin, Conor Casey and Andrew McGowan and a well-taken point by Mullin in the 13th minute reflected their progressive confidence.

A goal chance ensued in the 20th minute as Aidan Jones raced onto Mullin's pass, but his bravery when electing to shoot was not rewarded on this occasion as his shot dragged narrowly wide of Jake Malone's right-hand upright.

Kilmacud soon enjoyed a numerical advantage following Murphy's tangle with McGowan, but they failed to build on that decision as Treacy kicked a superb free to restore his side's parity.

With O'Callaghan dropping deep to telling effect, Cuala finished the half in the ascendancy, with late scores from Treacy and a wonderful effort on the counter-attack by Sheanon ensuring a 0-6 to 0-2 interval lead.

The positive resumption required by Crokes duly arrived as Ryan Murphy timed his run to perfection to race onto Francis O'Reilly's pass before calmly slotting beyond Malone in the 33rd minute to leave the minimum between the sides.

A brace of sublime points from Jones and McGowan arrived soon after, but Kilmacud's composure was found wanting as they left Sheanon in acres of space to fire home clinically across Conor Murray after a well-timed pass by Conor Murphy in the 38th minute.

With Cuala substitutes Donal Lane and Niall James making solid contributions, the Dalkey club inched further ahead through a typically languid strike by O'Callaghan, but with fatigue a factor, they struggled to hold their lead as Crokes substitute Sean Keating shone upon his introduction.

Keating added two points in quick succession and, as the contest reached fever pitch, Crokes restored parity in the 60th minute as O'Reilly slotted over to ensure 20 minutes of added time.

A similarly tight period was anticipated, but once Braine slotted home after four minutes, Cuala assumed complete control with Drummond especially influential.

O'Callaghan fittingly recorded the last four scores of the game to confirm a wonderful day for his club.