U14 Hurlers  in a powerful win over St. Sylvesters  in their final league match

This was ‘the tale of two keepers’ in Thomastown Park in the last scheduled U14 hurling league match of 2012. Ryan De Felice again raised his stock as a world-class goalkeeper with an outstanding display of skill and bravery that kept the Dalkeymen in it at crucial times in this tense but thrilling end of season finale. They say that ‘Goals win Matches’ and never was this saying more true than in this match where Cuala were pounded by a much more physical St. Sylvesters team that had disposed of Lucan, Castleknock and Ballinteer and in their previous three outings.


U14 LEAGUE DIV 2 – Saturday 27th October 2012, Thomastown Park


A bright, clear Autumn day met the players as they came out onto a Thomastown pitch that was more fit for rugby than the skills of hurling. Finbarr Murphy had been out early with a yard-brush and a fork to take most of the water off the surface. The Cuala mentors reminded the players that this was a do-or-die situation, and they had to treat the game as a Championship match. The players in red-and-white responded with a superb display of fire, aggression and no little skill. 17 players played their hearts out that ultimately got them the win they deserved.

Cuala started the game with ‘Fire in the belly, ice in the head’ – Anthony Daly’s now famous quote to the Dublin senior hurling team. Within two minutes Michael Wylde hit for a point and the ball dropped over the unfortunate Syls goalkeeper’s head and into the net. On 5 minutes Man-of-the-match Mark O’Treasaigh, burst through the cover and stitched a ball into the back of the Sylvester’s net. The start could not have been better for Cuala! The players were playing with a passion and determination that rocked the green-and-black northsiders back on their heels. But they shook themselves down and responded in kind. Their class No.15 came out from corner-forward onto the 40’, won clean possession and raced in on goal. His pace took him through the cover and he hit an unstoppable shot to the Cuala net. Fionn Myers responded quickly with a wonderful point following good work by Wylde.  On 18 minutes, with the game now finely balanced on a score-line of 2-1 to 1-2, Myers took another ball from Maas in mid-field and launched another missile at the Syls goal. Almost a carbon-copy of the first Cuala goal, the ball dropped on the cross-bar and nestled in the back of the Sylvester’s net. From the puck-out O’Treasaigh took another wonder catch and played in Wylde for another well-taken goal where he side-stepped his man to go one-on-one with the keeper.  It seemed that every time the ball went into the inside forwards, Cuala took a score. Emmet Murphy who was his usual deadly self from the placed ball, clipped over two frees. O’Treasaigh was now rampant on the 40’. He was catching puck-outs from both ends and was feeding the inside line of McDonnell, Myers and Wylde. He took two wonderful points off his left to leave Sylvesters in real trouble heading into the break. However, Sylvesters were not about to roll-over easily. On 30 mins a fine move led to a goal that left the score-line 4-6 to 2-4 in Cuala’s favour.

On the turnaround, Sylvesters upped their game. The physically bigger players in their half-back line began to move forward and to exert pressure on the Cuala defence. Their two mid-fielders came right into the game and Cuala were under sustained pressure. Their backs began to give away frees. Three unanswered points from placed balls cut the deficit to 5 within 10 mins of the re-start. The Cuala mentors needed someone to ‘steady the ship’.   Up stepped Murphy with two critical frees that kept day-light between the teams. However, the respite was short-lived. Sylvesters were now in control of the game and De Felice in nets pulled off save after save to keep the northside marauders from making a Halloween nightmare for Cuala. The Cuala rear guard of Brian Coronella, Conor Newman and Tiarnan Lane hurled their hearts out. When De Felice was beaten on one occasion, Tiarnan Lane made a critical save on the goal-line to prevent what looked like a certain goal. Despite the pounding, Cuala survived and with 15 to go, Cuala regained the initiative and took over again around the middle. Mass was outstanding throughout, and the half-back line of James Murphy, Fionn O’Drisceoil and Oisin Marray began to stamp their authority on proceedings. With Mark O’Treasaigh, and Emmet Murphy on the flanks and Cathal O’Floinn at centre forward playing like demons, the game turned back in Cuala’s favour. Stevie McDonnell sprung to life when moved to left-half forward and the game began to swing Cuala’s way. James Murphy and Jack Hartnett clipped over two long range points and when Hartnett dropped another high delivery into the back of the Syls net, the game was all but over. O’Drisceoil hit a 65’ and Thomas McCarthy hit another goal at the death to leave Cuala flattered on a score-line of 6-11 to 3-10. Cuala now go into a play-off with Lucan Sarsfields to gain promotion to the top division. A wonderful achievement for a great bunch of players! St. Sylvesters mentors will rue not having a keeper of the caliber of De Felice in nets!

Footnote: On the Hill 16 web-site, the play-off with Lucan Sarsfields is scheduled for Saturday 17th November in Thomastown. It is another ‘winner-takes-all’ match with the winner moving into Div 1 next year and the loser confined to U15 Div2. All support welcome, it’s bound to be a cracker!

Team: Ryan De Felice, Conor Newman, Brian Coronella, Tiarnan Lane, James Murphy (0-1), Fionn O’Drisceoil (0-1 ’65), Oisin Marray, Thomas McCarthy (1-0), Diarmait Maas, Emmet Murphy (0-5 frees), Cathal O’Floinn, Mark O’Treasaigh (1-2), Steven McDonnell, Fionn Myers (1-1), Michael Wylde (2-0).

Substitutes:  Rory McMahon for Conor Newman (35 mins), Jack Hartnett (1-1) for Diarmait Maas (inj. 45 mins).