Monday 18 December 2017

Cuala become first Dublin side to reach All-Ireland club hurling final after clinical rout of Slaughtneil

CUALA 3-21 SLAUGHTNEIL 2-11

25 February 2017; Con O'Callaghan of Cuala in action against Meehaul McGrath of Slaughtneil during the AIB GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Club Championship Semi-Final match between Cuala and Slaughtneil at the Athletic Grounds in Armagh. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
25 February 2017; Con O'Callaghan of Cuala in action against Meehaul McGrath of Slaughtneil during the AIB GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Club Championship Semi-Final match between Cuala and Slaughtneil at the Athletic Grounds in Armagh. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Conor McKeon

Conor McKeon

Slaughtneil's attempt to become the first club to win both All-Ireland club titles fell victim to a cold-blooded performance from Cuala in Armagh’s Athletic Grounds.

The win, ruthless in his construction, meant the Dalkey team became the first Dublin club to qualify for St. Patrick’s Day.

Therein, they’ll play Clare team Ballyea in what has the all the promise of a sparkling final.

They scored early and often, killed Slaughtneil’s spirit and suffered no further knocks and avoided suspensions.

The perfect day then for Cuala.

Impressively, three months of competitive inactivity had no discernible affect on Cuala’s hurling and a first half barrage ended this game long before its official conclusion.

Clearly, they used their time off well. And they displayed the full power of their attacking artillery.

For Slaughtneil, the day proved an anticlimactic end to their captivating double dream.

Cork’s storied St. Finbarr’s team of 1981 remain the only club team to reach All-Ireland club finals in both codes.

Eight of the side that started in their football semi-final win over St. Vincent’s began here and some 13 of their starting XV will be on the panel for their All-Ireland club football decider against Dr. Crokes.

Encouragingly, Chrissy McKaigue, who performed such a dominant marking job on Diarmud Connolly and scored four points against St. Vincent’s in the football semi-final, started the scoring yesterday and injected a pulse of excitement to the traveling Derry crowd but that was as optimistic as they were allowed get.

Con O’Callaghan, the man who scored six goals in Cuala’s Leinster club campaign, rifled another one here after just 11 minutes, at which point Mattie Kenny’s team had already began to take control.

Mark Schutte’s ball-winning helped create the opening, but O’Callaghan powerful run and torpedoed finish of his left side into the top corner of Slaughtneil’s net was yet another side of his myriad talents.

A member of Dublin’s 2016 All-Ireland winning football squad, O’Callaghan again showed the county hurlers what they were missing out on with a powerful performance on the edge of the square, scoring 1-3 over the hour and threatening goal with every possession.

Mostly, Cuala were clinical.

With seven Dublin senior panelists (Paul Schutte was a late withdrawal due to a hand injury) and a couple more Ger Cunningham would gladly take into his squad, they displayed their class in every line.

Mostly, Slaughtneil went long and straight with puck outs but Cuala’s half-back line were stronger in the air and snappier on breaks.

Seán Moran, in particular, dominated the airways around Cuala’s ’65 but they deprived Slaughtneil’s clearly lively forward line of ball or space.

Up front, Kenny has a dazzling collection of forwards, each one of whom can claim to have won their individual battles yesterday.

David Treacy’s ball use was calm and imaginative and his free-taking, flawless and with Colm Cronin bombing on from midfield and Mark Schutte beating Shane McGuigan to almost every ball, the Derry champions found themselves in bother in every corner of the pitch.

At 1-13 to 0-5 at half-time, the game was almost done but two sloppy second half goals conceded to Sé McGuigan and Gerald Bradley made that second period a little more uncomfortable than it needed to be.

Seán Treacy scored one on the run just seconds left in the half though and a second yellow card for Cormac McKenna meant Slaughtneil finished with just 14 men at a time when they were being overran from every angle.

Substitute, Niall Carty’s late, batted goal after a brilliant assists from Mark Schutte, killed it completely.

 

SCORERS – Cuala: D Treacy 0-8 (7f), C O’Callaghan 1-3, S Treacy 1-1, N Carty 1-0, C Cronin 0-3, N Kenny, J Sheanon, S Moran (f), D O’Connell, M Schutte, N Waldron (f) 0-1 each. Slaughtneil: C O’Doherty 0-5 (2f, 1 ’65), G Bradley 1-2, S McGuigan 1-0, B Rodgers, C McKaigue 0-2 each.

CUALA: S Brennan; O Gough, Cian O’Callaghan, S Timlin; K Malone, S Moran, J Sheanon; D O’Connell, C Cronin; S Treacy, C Sheanon, D Treacy; C Waldron, Con O’Callaghan, M Schutte. Subs: N Kenny for C Waldon (45), N Carty for C Sheanon (53), N Waldron for D Treacy (58), R Tierney for J Sheanon (59), S Stapleton for S Treacy (59)

SLAUGHTNEIL: O O’Doherty; C McAllister, Shane McGuigan, P McNeill; S Cassidy, Karl McKaigue, M McGrath; E Cassidy, G Bradley; C McKaigue, M McGuigan, M McKenna; Sé McGuigan, B Rodgers, C O’Doherty. Subs: B Cassidy for M Mcguigan (h-t), R McCartney for Cassidy (43)

REF: C Lyons (Cork)

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