Plunkett’s quickly switched their kick out plan as Conor Bennett and Luke Twomey were completely dominant in the middle of the park.
Amazingly, the next score of the game was another Cuala goal. This time, Paul Lehane was the architect. After beating his man to the ball, he drew the last defender before rolling the ball into space for the onrushing Finn Richardson. Despite it being his first ever adult football Championship game, Richardson showed incredible composure as he flicked the ball into his hands and rifled the ball into the top corner to make it 3-0 to 0-0 after 10 minutes.
It looked as though Plunkett’s head might start to drop as the back six, led by Collie Brock, was totally dominant in the opening 30 minutes.
Well taken score by Brian Walsh, Paul Lehane and Rory McMahon gave Cuala a 3-3 to 0-4 lead at half time.
Cuala kicked the first two points of the second half through Rory McMahon and Brian Walsh. Plunkett’s made a number of changes soon after and began eating into the Cuala lead.
A quickfire goal for the visitors with 15 minutes remaining meant Cuala’s lead was cut to just four points, 3-5 to 1-7.
As both sides traded scores, Plunkett’s cut the deficit to three with their second goal of the game with five minutes remaining. Just as the momentum seemed to swinging in their favour, Cuala calmly worked the ball up the field into the opposition 45 and patiently waited for an opening, which was finally pointed by Donal Lehman to give Cuala some breathing room with two minutes to go.
Plunkett’s continued to go for goals but a strong performance from the full back line of Dave Ryan, Paddy Jennings, Sean Finn and then Mark Brophy held strong in the final few minutes after being well marshalled by Cormac Quinn in the Cuala goal.
The visitors could only add a single point in the final few minutes to hand Cuala a three point win.
Cuala: Cormac Quinn, Paddy Jennings, Sean Finn, Dave Ryan, Adam Sheeran, Collie Brock, Adam Hudson, Conor Bennett, Luke Twomey, Finn Richardson, Tiernan Lane, Brian Walsh, Paul Lehane, Rory McMahon, Donal Lehman, Mark Brophy, Cillian Greene, Jack McKenna, Gary Widger.