Well – follow that! After the magnificent all-Ireland triumph of Cuala’s hurlers and the equally magnificent post-match celebrations, our intermediate footballers faced the task of getting down to business with their first league match of 2017 against St. Brigids on Sunday morning. A bright but very blustery morning greeted the teams at Hyde Road as Cuala looked to re-attain the momentum of last year’s triumphant campaign in this higher league.
After a cagey opening, the Cuala lads clicked into gear and started to move the ball intelligently and create chances. With the defence anchored by Collie Brock, Dylan Tracey and Fergus Spillane repelling the sporadic Brigids’ attacks, Matthew Kiernan and Jamie Keenan drove the team forward from midfield. This gave the forwards a platform on which to work. Ronan Sweeney provided an effective fulcrum at centre forward, Donal Lehmann popped up everywhere and with Adam Hudson and Jack Flynn supplementing the attack from the half back positions, the northsider’s defence had a torrid time.
Alan Benson started the scoring with a ‘45’ which sailed over the bar and he went on the kick a couple more delightful points from play. Gavin Hartnett, Cathal O’Giolláin, Lehmann and Sweeney all got on the scoreboard before Scott O’Brien kicked an outrageous point off the outside of his boot from out near the touchline for the score of the half.
A somewhat harsh black card for Spillane in the 21st minute and a very unfortunate shoulder injury to Dylan Tracey shortly afterwards disrupted the Cuala full-back line. While they were in the process of re-organising, Brigid’s scored a goal to leave the half time scoreline Cuala 0-9 : St Brigid’s 1-1.
Facing the stiff wind in the second half, the team were determined to continue to play the brand of football which has stood them in such good stead. Brigids tactics in the second half were clearly influenced by having the strong wind at their back. There was a concerted effort to launch high balls into the Cuala square. However, Darragh O’Reilly and his defenders dealt very capably with this threat. His kickouts continued to find their mark and this allowed the Dalkey lads to play in the way they wanted.
Movement off the ball gave the man in possession options. Mark O’Grady, Lehmann, Sweeney and substitutes Luc O’Giolláin and Niall and Paul James were very prominent in this regard. Without the ball, some great tackling and tracking by the likes of Kiernan, Dave Sheerin and Ciaran McDermott consistently broke up the Brigids attacks and ensured they never got any momentum going.
The approach yielded its deserved awards with 3 second half goals. Cathal O’Giolláin scored the first after fielding a high ball. Jamie Keenan got on the end of a flowing passing move to a slot the second. Cathal then lashed home the third after taking an incisive pass from the lively Dan Keating who showed well on his introduction.
These goals eased Cuala clear and they saw the game out with the final score Cuala 3-10 : St Brigids 1-5 . This was a very effective and efficient team performance which augurs well for the year ahead. Next up is a trip to Newcastle and the chance to keep the momentum going.