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'Tarf war leaves Cuala done four



THE sun shone in Dalkey on Sunday morning. So did Clontarf.

It's two wins from two now. They began the campaign with a home victory against St Sylvester's.

They started briskly attacking the road end of Hyde Park. They were six points up before Cuala produced their first score in the 22nd minute, a Paul James free.

'Tarf looked lean and fit. They were secure with the ball in the paws and on the laces. They were eager at running into space, and they were lively in attack.

"The lads gave it 100 per cent. They never stopped working," observed Robbie Lillis.

"It's never easy coming here and going home with the points. We are pleased with our start to the season. In all, that's our fifth successive win, two in the league and three in the cup."

The hosts enjoyed a bit more joy after the tea. But they had to play the last 20 minutes with 14 men when Mal Lawlor was carried off injured.

In the 17th minute, Cuala had also lost their captain, Olan Coyle, through injury. He was replaced by John Fitzsimons, a brother of Dublin All-Ireland winner, Michael. Cuala only had 17 players on duty, and of their starting 15, Rory Cole also retired injured, and he was unable to resume when the side went down to 14 players.

But Cuala weren't looking into the orchard of excuses. "Clontarf are an excellent team. They were really up for it," remarked Seamus Coyle.

"We beat Kilmacud away in our opening match. That was a good result, so we'll just have to move on from this defeat and go again."

Cuala's centre half-back, Conor Bennett, was one of the most impressive footballers on the pitch. He won some fine ball and he used it wisely.

Yet the home defence got little chance to admire their surroundings. Time and again, the express deliveries were pouring in through the letterbox.


'Tarf often built from the back. In the opening period, right corner-back Eoin Hickey went on a couple of runs from the Rob Kearney school.

Fiachra Dodd covered acres of ground, and the commanding number six, Damien Carew, kept everything nice and simple. His distribution was spot on.

Aidan O'Donoghue was especially prominent in the boiler-house, while the pace and guile of Shane Doyle and Gareth Johnson opened many a window.

It was O'Donoghue who scored the visitors first goal right on the blow of the break as his shot, struck with the outside of his right boot, nestled in the right-hand corner.

'Tarf might have had an earlier goal in the 23rd minute when Kevin Reid got down low at his right-hand post to push out Brian Forde's effort for a '45'.

It was 1-9 to 0-2 at the interval. Cuala's improved effort cheered the local congregation, but three goals in the last eight minutes applied the Dulux emulsion. A flowing move concluded with Mick O'Mahony slotting the ball to the roof for the second goal. Dodd, Carew and Doyle were among those that mixed the cement.

In the 56th minute, the captain, Mark Murphy, combined with O'Donoghue to let in Forde for the third goal, and in the last minute, Thomas O'Connor capped his valuable contribution with the fourth from close distance. The great Johnny Sheanon kept on encouraging the young Cuala Colts. How many hours has he spent on the village green?

Clontarf have a nice mix about them. They'll be keen to continue their flourishing run. And on this evidence, they have every chance.