Club hurling round-up: Con O'Callaghan stars as champions Cuala march on while Ballygunner pip Sixmilebridge
Cuala 2-20 Dicksboro 1-16
THEY may be reigning AIB All-Ireland club hurling champions but Cuala are certainly not resting on their laurels.
At a sun-kissed Parnell Park this afternoon they cruised to a fully deserved seven-point victory over Dicksboro.
They had big performers in every line – most notably a dominant Seán Moran at centre-back, workaholic midfielder Darragh O'Connell and Con O'Callaghan as their ball magnet inside.
The newly crowned All Star and Young Footballer of the Year would finish off a perfect weekend by scoring 1-3 from play, while having a prominent creative role in Jake Malone's 15th minute goal and several more Cuala points.
Not even a 1-2 flurry in a two-minute spell late in the game - two Shane Stapleton '65s' sandwiching a 56th minute goal from sub Stephen Farrell - could ignite a spectacular comeback from the Kilkenny champions.
That burst reduced a ten-point deficit to five, but the three-in-a-row Dublin kingpins regrouped and landed the last two points, via sub Niall Carty and Colm Cronin.
Victory sets up a Leinster semi-final date at home to St Martin's of Wexford in two weeks' time.
Playing with far more fluency than eight days previously in the county final, Cuala hit the Parnell Park turf running with three points inside the first five minutes. By half-time they were 1-10 to 0-8 clear and, with a shade more ruthlessness, could have been even further in the ascendant.
From the off, Cuala's policy of feeding O'Callaghan with early ball was evident; equally so the dual star's determination to go for the jugular. He eventually settled for a point after his first soaring catch and turn, then beat his man soon after for a goal chance that flashed wide.
The Dicksboro dam eventually burst midway through the half when Colum Sheanon's clever flicked pass released O'Callaghan, bearing down on goal. Even though he failed to get his shot away, the ball broke to Malone who buried the chance.
At the same juncture, midway through the second half, it was Malone's turn to feed O'Callaghan for Cuala's second goal, stretching the margin to eight and effectively ending the contest.
In the other Leinster semi-final, Mount Leinster Rangers of Carlow will face Kilcormac Killoughey of Offaly after both sides emerged from their quarter-final ties today against Camross and Castletown Geoghegan respectively.
In the Munster semi-finals, Ballygunner (Waterford) overturned a five-point half time deficit to pip Sixmilebridge (Clare) by 1-18 to 1-17, while 2016 All-Ireland champions Na Piarsaigh joined them in the provincial decider after thumping Blackrock (Cork) by 2-26 to 0-10.
Here are today's provincial hurling results in full:
Leinster club hurling championship quarter-finals
Cuala 2-20 Dicksboro 1-16
Kilcormac Killoughey 2-15 Castletown Geoghegan 1-12
Mount Leinster Rangers 0-19 Camross 0-13
Munster club hurling championship semi-finals
Ballygunner 1-18 Sixmilebridge 1-17
Na Piarsaigh 2-26 Blackrock 0-10
SCORERS - Cuala: D Treacy 0-9 (8f), Con O'Callaghan 1-3, J Malone 1-0, C Cronin 0-3, N Kenny, N Carty 0-2 each, D O'Connell 0-1. Dicksboro: S Stapleton 0-8 (5f, 3 '65s'), S Farrell 1-0, O Gough, E Gough, R Murphy 0-2 each, M Gaffney, O Walsh 0-1 each.
CUALA: S Brennan; S Timlin, Cian O'Callaghan, O Gough; J Sheanon, S Moran, P Schutte; D O'Connell, S Treacy; C Sheanon, D Treacy, J Malone; C Cronin, Con O'Callaghan, N Kenny. Subs: N Carty for Kenny (52), C Waldron for C Sheanon (55).
DICKSBORO: D Holohan; C Doheny, E Cody, M Fagan; T Kenny, C Buckley, A Nolan; O Walsh, R Fitzpatrick; R Murphy, E Gough, S Stapleton; O Gough, M Gaffney, B Sheehan. Subs: K Kenny for E Gough (44), S Farrell for Murphy (44), P O'Flynn for Nolan (52).
REF: P Murphy (Carlow).