The senior hurlers picked up from where they left off against Ballyboden in the SHC by beating them by four points in their Division One League encounter. This now means Cuala move up to second place in AHL 1.
AHL DIVISION 1 – Saturday 9th June 2012, Sancta Maria.
CUALA 3 -12; BALLYBODEN ST ENDAS 2 – 11
It’s been a long time in coming. To beat the 5 times County Champions once in a year is a fantastic achievement. To beat them twice is historic!
Three weeks ago Cuala put Ballyboden to the sword in the SH Championship with a margin of 4 points. Once again in Sancta Maria on a warm and balmy Saturday evening, Cuala confirmed their current superiority over Boden with another 4 point win, this time in the SH League.
The score difference was not the only similarity between the two games. In both Cuala dominated the first half, taking a 7 point lead into half time in Saturday’s game, whilst having a 9 point lead in the corresponding Championship fixture. Again in both games, Boden fought back strongly early in the second half reducing the arrears to 3 points in the League game, whilst nudging to a point lead in the Championship. Cuala’s dogged determination and ‘never-say-die’ attitude in the final few minutes was the critical element to seal both victories. The quality of the performance of Mark Schutte was also a telling factor in both games. Cuala can be very pleased with their overall performance. Their accuracy, their passing and their ability to find their forwards gave them the edge in both games. Boden will rue a number of missed goal chances and long-range shots that failed to hit the target.
The game began at a ferocious pace with neither side giving an inch. Cuala opened well with two points from the stick of Barry Connolly before Boden broke through for a goal after a fine solo effort from Niall Ryan. Cuala’s response was emphatic and they hit a ‘purple-patch’ of 15 minutes which was ultimately enough to win the game. A well placed pass from Adam Hudson out of defence was caught over the head of the defender by Mark Schutte in the left-half forward position, and he headed for goal. As the full-back came to meet him, he gave a deft pass to Andy Browne on the edge of the square, and the ball was blasted to the net. Schutte was causing all sorts of mayhem for the Boden defence and Boden Bainisteoir Hogan tried three different defenders on him in an effort to ‘snuff out’ his constant threat. Despite this a few minutes later, he won another high ball, turned for goal and this time struck the ball to the net in what was a brilliantly taken individual goal. It was only the excellence of the Boden keeper that kept him at bay on two further occasions. A brace of points from Barry Connolly and a long-range free from Shane Kiely, pushed Cuala further ahead. Brian Fitzgerald joined in and helped himself to a goal following more good work from Schutte and Browne and took another long-range point from play. But it certainly wasn’t all one-way traffic! Towards the end of the half, Boden broke through the Cuala cover on a number of occasions but a solid performance by Fintan O’ Brien between the sticks kept Boden out. He made two outstanding ‘one-on-one’ saves, and on two other occasions, Simon Timlin and Sean Barron had to clear goal line skirmishes to see off two dangerous Boden attacks. In spite of the Boden effort, Cuala went into the break with a convincing half time lead of 3 – 6 to 1 – 5.
Ignoring a clear half-time warning of an imminent Boden backlash from mentor Barry O’ Halloran, Cuala took the foot of the pedal for the first twenty minutes of the second half and only notched up two long-range points from Connolly and Stapleton. During this period, Boden were reduced to 14 men when David ‘Doc’ O’Connor was side-lined for what appeared to be an innocuous 2nd yellow. The sending-off seemed to spur on the Blue-and-Whites to greater effort. Cuala seemed to have difficulty adjusting to having an extra man in defence. Minutes later, in a highly controversial incident, Boden’s corner-forward was tripped inside the square as he ran for goal. To add insult to injury, as Gearoid McGrath blew the whistle for the penalty, the ball nestled in the back of the Cuala net. The Boden ‘faithful’ on the touch-line were furious, and became even more enraged when the penalty shot was magnificently saved by the Dalkey ‘keeper. Cuala were now under continuous pressure and Carroll wasn’t to be denied a second time, as he goaled this time from a 20m free. Boden were now within three points of Cuala and Keily had to pull off another point-blank save from Carroll to keep ‘the reds’ in front. Cuala regained their composure, took back the initiative and, in the final few minutes, Boden could not break down the resolute Cuala back line which was well marshalled by Fintan O’Brien & Shane Kiely and the outstanding Conor Gough who was immense at centre-back throughout. In the dying minutes with time ebbing away, Rob Reid took a pass from Connolly to drive over a point from 80 metres and any prospect of a Boden revival was gone.
Another good day at the office for the Cuala hurlers with excellent displays from O’Brien in nets, Keily & Gough in defence, Connolly around the middle and the ‘evergreen’ Andy Browne at full-forward on his first start in this year’s SH League. However the man-of-the-match accolade must be given to Mark Shutte for an outstanding performance in attack particularly in the first half.
Next up, Craobh Chiarian on the 20th June in Shankill.
Team: Fintan 0’Brien, Simon Timlin, Shane Kiely (0-1f), Rob Reid (0-1), Adam Hudson, Conor Gough, Sean Barron, Shane Stapleton (0-2), Bobby Browne, JJ Ryan, David Cunningham, Barry Connolly (0-5,2f), Mark Schutte (1-0), Andrew Browne (1-0), Brian Fitzgerald (1-2).
Substitutes: Sean Moran for Adam Hudson (inj. 20 mins), Cian Waldron for David Cunningham (30 mins), Luke Keating (0-1) for JJ Ryan (45 mins), Scott O’ Brien for Bobby Browne (50 mins).
Match Reports Courtesy of John Treacy
Photos from the match by Brendan Donnelly can be viewed here