Cuala retain Dublin crown after close contest with Ballyboden

Cuala: 2-20, Ballyboden St. Enda’s: 1-18

Eanna O’Reilly

Cuala won their eight Dublin senior hurling championship with a hard-fought victory over Ballyboden St. Enda’s in Parnell Park. In a meeting of the 2018 and 2019 champions, a very strong final quarter from Cuala saw them take control, after chasing the game for most of the first half. Ballyboden performed very well on the day, but the concession of a second half penalty, which Cuala’s Sean Moran fired to the net, was a blow which they struggled to recover from. Cuala showed their experience in the last ten minutes, outscoring Ballyboden by 1-5 to 0-2, to close out the game and win back to back senior titles.

Ballyboden were the better team in the opening half, getting early points through Conor Dooley, Conal Keaney and Paul Ryan. Ballyboden full back James Madden also did an excellent marking job on Cuala and Dublin star Con O’Callaghan. Cuala were slow to start, but got a boost when Sean Moran scored a great individual goal in the eleventh minute. However, Ballyboden continued to dominate, with Paul and Niall Ryan getting excellent points. Ballyboden were awarded a penalty, which was taken by former county star Paul Ryan. After Ryan’s shot was initially saved, Conal Keaney got to the rebound and hit the back of the net for Ballyboden. This goal put them six points ahead, by 1-11 to 1-5, and they were well in the driving seat. Points from Mark Schutte and O’Callaghan kept Cuala in touch, but further scores from Ryan and Dooley saw Ballyboden lead by 1-13 to 1-9 at half time.

Cuala raised their game early in the second half, with David Treacy’s pointed frees reducing the margin. A point from Sean Moran reduced Ballyboden’s lead a single point, as the momentum began to turn in Cuala’s favour. O’Callaghan was getting more involved at full forward, as Cuala managed to supply the county star with some good ball. He was then fouled in the square for a penalty, which Moran blasted to the net to put Cuala in front. They then added points from Treacy, Moran and Nicky Kenny to extend their lead, while Ballyboden struggled to keep the scoreboard ticking. Treacy’s frees were crucial, with the county star showing great composure to extend Cuala’s lead in the last ten minutes. Cuala received a blow late in the game, when Colum Sheanon was sent off after getting a second yellow card, but the Dalkey club were in control at this stage. They reduced the supply of ball into the Ballyboden full forward line very effectively in the second half, with Keaney and the Ryan’s getting far fewer scoring opportunities. Oisín Gough and Cian O’Callaghan were excellent in the second half in the Cuala defence. It finished with Cuala running out five-point winners, to win their fifth Dublin senior title in six years.

Cuala: S. Brennan, O. Gough, C. O’Callaghan, M. Conroy; J. Sheanon, J. Malone (0-1), D. O’Connell; N. Carty (0-1), S. Treacy; D. O’Floinn, C. O’Callaghan (0-1), D. Treacy (0-11, 0-7 frees, 0-1 ‘65); C. Cronin (0-1), M. Schutte (0-1), S. Moran (2-3, 1-0 pen, 0-1 free). Subs: C. Sheanon for Carty (27 mins), S. Timlin for Conroy (36 mins), N. Kenny (0-1) for Treacy (Blood, 36-37 mins), Kenny for O’Floinn (45 mins), L. Murphy for Cronin (65 mins).

Ballyboden St. Enda’s: F. McGarry, S. O’Connor, L. Corcoran, D. O’Connor; S. Durkin, J. Madden, S. Lambert; S. McDonnell, N. McMorrow; C. Dooley (0-2), P. Doherty (0-1), N. Ryan (0-4); P. Ryan (0-8, 0-3f, 0-1 ‘65), C. Keaney (1-1), A. Mellett (0-2). Subs: P. Dunleavy for O’Connor (52 mins), L. McDwyer for Mellett (56 mins), C. McCormack for Doherty (60 mins).

Referee: S. Stack.

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