Craobh Chiaráin 0-15
An Alan McCrabbe-inspired Craobh Chiaráin proved too strong for a battling Cuala outfit in this Evening Herald Dublin SHC 'A' clash at Clonsaugh on Saturday evening.
The 2009 All-Star hit 11 points out of his side's total of 15 in a superb all-round midfield display.
The visitors showed terrific spirit in the second period in an attempt to claw back a six-point half-time deficit but their profligacy in front of goal cost them dearly as they remain rooted to the bottom of Group A.
The winners, however, will be pleased with their professional performance and it sees them maintain their place at the top of their grouping with one game remaining.
Craobh had the assistance of a stiff breeze in the opening half, but it was Cuala who quickly settled into the game and only a brilliant save from Stephen Chester denied Eoin Cronin an early goal.
However, the hosts soon found their rhythm and a clever McCrabbe free put Ger Ennis in the clear to pop over the first score of the game. The star of the show then opened his own account before Philip Purtell extended their advantage.
Mark Schutte responded for Cuala but McCrabbe hit five points in 10 minutes as his side took complete control.
Substitute Francis Usanga further contributed to the score board with his first touch.
Schutte fired his second for the south county Dublin men, while David Cunningham closed the gap to six on the stroke of half-time as the score board read 0-9 to 0-3 at the break.
Cuala were a more coherent unit in the second period as they set about closing the gap. County star Oisín Gough was superb in the pivot position as he drove his team forward.
Three points on the bounce from Schutte, Bobby Browne and Eoghan Dunne left just a puck of the ball between them entering the final 10 minutes. But Craobh showed great composure to see out the game with little fuss.
A brace from McCrabbe, one a 65, sandwiched a fine individual effort courtesy of Robbie Mahon, and this was enough to secure a solid six-point victory. The Craobh are now destined for the knockout phase where they will no doubt be a tough proposition for any side.
SCORERS -- Craobh Chiaráin: A McCrabbe 0-11 (3 '65', 3f), G Ennis, P Purtell, F Usanga, R Mahon 0-1 each. Cuala: E Dunne 0-4 (3f), M Schutte 0-3, D Cunningham, B Browne 0-1 each.
CRAOBH CHIARÁIN: S Chester; K Elliot, E Farrell, D Kirwan; J Finnegan, Derek O'Reilly, D Kelly; S McDonnell, A McCrabbe; K Warren, G Ennis, P O'Boyle; J Ryan, P Purtell, K Ryan. Subs: F Usanga for K Ryan (26), D Keane for Ennis (h-t), R Mahon for J Ryan (h-t), Damien O'Reilly for Finnegan (56).
CUALA: F O'Brien; S Holden, A Browne, R Reid; J Sheanon, O Gough, C Gough; S O'Brien, B Browne; C Waldron, S Kiely, D Cunningham; E Dunne, M Schutte, E Cronin. Subs: D Holden for C Gough (35), C O'Farrell for Cunningham (47), O Ryan for Cronin (57).
REF: E Mullarkey (Lucan Sarsfields).