Schutte: Biggest challenge for Cuala is getting out of Dublin
Dublin SHC final: Cuala 1-13 Kilmacud Crokes 0-13
Cuala retained the county senior hurling championship and earned their third title in a row at Parnell Park on Saturday, but they were made sweat all the way by arch rivals Kilmacud Crokes. In a low scoring and extremely physical match Crokes launched a ferocious challenge that foundered on a lack of scoring power in their ranks.
"It's absolutely brilliant winning three in a row," beamed Paul Schutte afterwards. "The standard of hurling in Dublin is very high. We said the biggest challenge for us was to get out of Dublin."
"There's a lot of us whose dads have won three Championships. So that was always a goal. To match my dad and captain the team, like my dad captained the team. That was always in our minds," he added.
Ollie Baker's side went with a two-man inside forward line which might have warranted temporary adjustment given the strong wind advantage they enjoyed in the first half. Cuala's extra cover at the back eliminated the goal threat. Crokes relied on Oisin O'Rorke and Fergal Whitely for most of their scores, with Whiteley hitting three from play while O'Rorke finished with seven, five of those placed balls.
Ross O'Carroll tried hard and hit a second half point as they pressed upfield, and nearing the end they shaved a lead Cuala had held for most of the game down to a single point. When Colm Cronin won a free in injury time Cuala brought David Treacy back on to put the ball between the posts and allow them some breathing space.
Treacy had the final score, from play, with six minutes of injury time played, to leave them a goal to the good at the final whistle. They head straight into a Leinster championship campaign on Sunday next at the same venue where they will meet Dicksboro, who beat James Stephens to the Kilkenny county title yesterday afternoon.
Sean Moran was imperious at the back for Cuala, stamping his class on the match with a glut of interventions, and making intelligent use of the ball. At one stage in the second half Moran sent a free into the Croke's half for Con O'Callaghan to race on to and land a fine point from play, ending the day with three to his name and laying on another.
Bill O'Carroll did a fine marking job on O'Callaghan in the opening half, restricting him to just one point, but once the Cuala forward began to roam outfield he found greater reward for his labours. Niall Corcoran limited Mark Schutte to a point in the first half too though he conceded a penalty 12 minutes after the interval when Schutte fielded and was held illegally. From the penalty Treacy shot to the right but Eoin Dalton parried out for a '65 which Treacy scored to make some amends.
Crokes made the smarter start, racing into a 0-4 to 0-1 lead after ten minutes and closing down Cuala at every turn. From the off little space was afforded to either set of forwards and for most of the match the hurling was played at close quarters, a hard, energy-sapping contest.
Croke's lost last year's final to Cuala by a point after getting off to a disastrous start. They were keen to ensure that did not happen again. Lorcan McMullan opened the scoring direct from the throw-in and points from Whitely, O'Rorke, a free, and Sean McGrath had them leading by three.
But the crucial score came in the 18th minute. A cross field ball from Colm Cronin was snapped up by Darragh O'Connell and he held his balance well before squeezing through a gap and finishing past Dalton. The goal put Cuala ahead for the first time in the game, 1-3 to 0-4, and for 20 minutes of the opening half Crokes failed to add to their tally.
Robert O'Loughlin operated as Crokes' sweeper for most of the match, but having played with the strong wind they found themselves trailing 0-6 to 1-5 by half time. Yet they never relinquished hope. They drew level early in the second half, before Cuala hit four unanswered points, starting with Treacy's '65 to move 1-9 to 0-8 ahead with 51 minutes played. Undeterred, Crokes rallied with scores from Rory O'Carroll, O'Rorke and Whitely to leave a point between them with play entering injury time. But Cuala had a final kick in them to make the match safe.
Cuala suffered a blow when Schutte went off injured at which point Colm Cronin began increasingly make his presence felt, finishing with two points. Treacy had a shot that hit the side netting - which saw some Cuala followers celebrating in vain - but the one goal was enough for this day at least.
Paul Schutte said that their manager Mattie Kenny's decision to give them time off during the summer had proved crucial in keep the team fresh after a long year. "A lot of teams when they are trying to win back-to-back train even harder but Mattie gave us time off and that helped get us going again."
Scorers: Cuala - D Treacy 0-6 (0-4 fs, 0-1 65); D O'Connell 1-0, Con O'Callaghan 0-3, C Cronin 0-2, C Sheanon, M Schutte 0-1 each. Kilmacud Crokes - O O'Rorke 0-7 (0-5 fs), F Whitely 0-3, L McMullan, S McGrath, R O'Carroll 0-1 each.
Cuala: S Brennan; S Timlin, Cian O'Callaghan, O Gough; J Sheanon, S Moran, P Schutte; J Malone, D Malone; S Treacy, C Cronin, D Treacy; C Sheanon, Con O'Callaghan, M Schutte. Subs: S Stapleton for M Schutte (inj 46 mins); C Waldron for Treacy (59); N Kenny for C Sheanon (64); D Treacy for Cronin (65).
Kilmacud Crokes: E Dalton; N Corcoran, B O'Carroll, R O'Loughlin; R Murphy, R O'Carroll, D Kelly; L McMullan, C MacGabhann; N O'Riordan, F Whitely, C Conway; O O'Rorke, B O'Rorke, S McGrath. R Hayes for O'Riordain (42 mins); D Mulligan for B O'Rorke (44); S O'Dwyer for McGrath (61); J Gibbons for O'Loughlin (59).
Ref: F Gaffney (Na Fianna).