Fri 9 July: Cuala’s Junior Hurlers gave a magnificent 2nd half display of passion, courage, strength and determination to win this AHL4 match against a quality Parnell’s side winning by the minimum in the last seconds of injury time on a wet & warm evening in Shanganagh Park. A ’65 awarded in injury time was batted back into play by Neil Kelly and converted by the ever-green Shane O’Brien to send the Dalkey outfit into ecstasy. Parnells came to Shankill looking to secure top spot in the League with a win. Cuala needed the two points to avoid a relegation dog-fight at the other end of the Table.

The northsiders started much the better and had quality hurlers in every line of their team. Their forwards, particularly their two corner forwards, their centre forward and the free-taker at 12 looked very dangerous and Parnells quickly ran into a three point lead mostly from the placed ball. Cuala’s defenders were just about holding their opposite numbers and were constantly giving away frees by playing from behind. Cuala were not winning the loose ball around the break-down from puck-outs and there wasn’t enough supply going into their forwards. However it was noticeable from the line that the Cuala forwards, particularly Carty and Armstrong, had the potential to take scores if they got more ball. With ten minutes to go to the break, the referee had to show a number of yellow cards, mostly to red & white players in a tempestuous period before half-time. It looked ominous for Cuala at the break with Parnells up 0-10 to 0-6. Every Cuala indiscretion was punished by the black & green no.12 in very demanding conditions. The management team of Kennedy & Murphy tore into the red & whites at the break and pointed to indiscipline and an unwillingness to take on the opposition as the reason for the team’s problems.

The introduction of Jones into the full-back line and moving O’Shea to wing-back strengthened Cuala’s grip in defence and Butler & O’Brien began to dominate the middle of the field. Carty was moved out onto the ’40 and looked much more dangerous under the dropping ball. With Hand and Ryan taking firm control in the half-back line Cuala started to play with tremendous passion and commitment and the tide began to turn in Cuala’s favour. Murphy, Armstrong and Carty began to fight for every ball on the ’40 and the industry and effort of O’ Donnell, O’Dowd and Lowry in the full forward line meant the Parnells backs were only part-clearing their lines. The pressure began to tell. Carty took a magnificent virtuoso goal following a run through the Parnells defence and striking an unstoppable shot to the net. This again lifted the Cuala outfit and when Shane O’Brien’s long range free went all the way to the net, the game had turned fully in Cuala’s favour with the home side up three points with 13 minutes to go. Parnells to their credit began a strong fight back and closed the gap to a single point before a free on Armstrong was despatched to the net from 25m by O’Brien. Again Parnells got back to level the match with 1 minute of injury time left on the clock before O’Brien took the winning point after good work in the corner by Kelly.

For the Dalkey team, this match was definitely a case of ‘snatching victory from the jaws of defeat’. Parnells missed their chance to go top, Cuala have now won the last three League matches on the trot and are well placed to play the next round of the Junior Championship towards the end of July.

CUALA 03:10 PARNELLS 00:18
Cuala: Stephen Butler, Eoin D’alton, Colman O’Drisceoil, Ciaran Monaghan, Jonathon Ryan, Luke Hand, Paul Butler, Kevin O’Shea, Shane O’Brien, Justin Lowry, Ger Armstrong, Colm Murphy, Niall Carty, Philip O’Donnell, Liam O’Dowd
Subs: Barry Jones for Ciaran Monaghan (30 mins), Neil Kelly for Justin Lowry (50 mins); Jamie Brennan for Liam O’Dowd (50 mins)

SCORERS: S O’Brien 2-5 (2-4 frees), N Carty 1-0, L O’Dowd 0-3 (3 frees), G Armstrong 0-1, P O’Donnell 0-1