Saturday 18 November 2017

Cuala-bula for Crokes as 27-year famine ends

It was billed as "Dublin's poshest final," but this novel clash of the southside rivals was settled in a straightforward manner.

Kilmacud Crokes' ability to find the net proved the ultimate difference as they beat Cuala, capturing their first hurling title since 1985 and their fifth in all.

They raised two green flags in the first half, thanks to Barry O'Rorke and Ryan O'Dwyer and from there they never looked like relinquishing their lead, despite the best efforts of their dogged opponents.

It officially brings to an end the reign of five-in-a-row champions Ballyboden St Enda's, but once again the Young Irelands Insurance trophy will be residing south of the Liffey for the coming year.

Ross O'Carroll started the scoring after five minutes, but, in truth, the opening quarter was a slow-burner.

Barry O'Rorke's goal would inject some life into proceedings, however.


O'Carroll, who's powerful running caused Cuala problems all afternoon, slipped through the cover and passed to Kevin O'Loughlin. The latter saw his clever lob come back of the crossbar, before O'Rorke pounced to score a goal from close range.

Cuala finally got off the mark thanks to a Barry Connolly free, quickly followed by a huge effort from Dublin player David Treacy.

Colm Cronin then showed his threat with a searing run from his centre-forward berth, but play was waved on, despite him getting hauled down inside the 14 metre line by the Crokes' defence.

Sean McGrath and Cuala's Cian Waldron traded points, but Crokes would find their second goal six minutes before the break.

McGrath's free from inside his own half dropped short and O'Dwyer somehow managed to get enough on the loose ball to steer it past Sean Brennan.

Sean Moran tagged one back in the last action of the first period, leaving Crokes leading 2-3 to 0-4 at the turnaround.

Cuala actually dominated for long periods of the second half and had cut the gap to just three points entering the final five minutes.

A treble of scores from Connolly, along with one apiece for Waldron and Cronin, gave them hope as only Ross O'Carroll could respond for the winners.

It looked as though the challenge from Crokes was petering out. They were second to every ball and appeared short on ideas.

But their defence was rock solid. The likes of Rory O'Carroll, Niall Corcoran and Jack Doughan denying the Cuala inside line the sufficient space to threaten goalkeeper Matt Collins.

And it was a booming point by Doughan which inspired the Stillorgan side to finish in the manner of champions as they reeled off six points in the final eight minutes to secure the title.

As well as Doughan, Dillon Mulligan also fired over from distance, while O'Loughlin, reintroduced after being substituted at half-time, chipped in with two frees.

Connolly attempted to goal with a late free, but the ball was swallowed up by a raft of Crokes players protecting their goalmouth and the 27-year famine was over.

SCORERS -- Kilmacud Crokes: B O'Rorke, R O'Dwyer 1-0 each, S McGrath 0-3 (0-1f), K O'Loughlin (2f), Ross O'Carroll 0-2 each, D Kelly, J Doughan, D Mulligan 0-1 each. Cuala: B Connolly

0-4 (2f), C Waldron 0-2, D Treacy, S Moran, C Cronin 0-1 each.

KILMACUD CROKES -- M Collins; R Walsh, N Corcoran, J Doughan; B O'Carroll, Rory O'Carroll, R O'Loughlin; C Clinton, D Mulligan; Ross O'Carroll, R O'Dwyer, J Sweeney; B O'Rorke, S McGrath, K O'Loughlin. Subs: O O'Rorke for K O'Loughlin (h-t), D Kelly for B O'Rorke (46), N O'Riordan for Clinton (58), K O'Loughlin for McGrath (58).

CUALA -- S Brennan; R Reid, P Schutte, S Timlin; C Gough, O Gough, S Moran; B Browne, C O'Callaghan; B Connolly, C Cronin, B Fitzgerald; D Treacy, C Waldron, M Schutte. Subs: L Keating for Fitzgerald (h-t), S Stapleton for Browne (50), D Cunningham for O'Callaghan (58).

REF -- P Behan (Trinity Gaels).

Irish Independent

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