Our AFL5 team made the trek out to Rush to play St Maur’s in a crucial AFL5 encounter on a hot and humid Tuesday evening in North County Dublin. We are now at the ‘business end of the season’ and the Cuala lads could afford no slip up in their drive to win this division – especially against a team who beat them in the divisional play-offs last year.
So the stakes were high. And the occasion seemed to inhibit the Cuala lads in what was a very lacklustre first half. Gavin Hartnett opened the scoring with a neat point but thereafter a series of dropped balls and missed chances pockmarked the Cuala performance. It meant that their superiority on the pitch was not translated on the scoreboard. Numerous times, the team in red drove forward from the back, sliced open the opposition but failed to tag on a score. Indeed a rather dubious penalty decision was converted by Maur’s midway through a low-scoring half leaving the Dalkey lads trailing at half time and frustrated with their first half showing.
HALF TIME: St. Maur’s 1-2; Cuala 0-4
Half time gave the team a chance to regroup. Management made some decisive changes. But the biggest change was the intensity and pace with which the team started the second half. It was an intensity that was maintained for 30 minutes and it was one which Maur’s just could not live with. Penning the opposition in, the Cuala team finally hit their stride in converting chances into scores, scoring 3-1 in a four minute purple patch which effectively ended the game as a contest. Sean Moran was the first to find the back of the net at the end of one team move. Donal Lehmann did the same shortly after and then Colmán McKenna ran powerfully through the middle before beating the keeper at the second attempt. Cathal O’Giollán then sent over a soaring point to cap this irresistible surge from boys in red.
The pleasing thing was that the lads did not rest on their laurels and continued to press hungrily. By now, all inhibitions had been shed and the team began to play the fast, direct and penetrative football that they are capable of. Enda Kelly was imperious at the back and Craig Lawlor, Dylan Treacy and Dave Sheerin drove forward relentlessly. Cian O’Callaghan and Colmán were in charge at midfield and provided the ammunition to a forward line that clicked into gear impressively with Cathal O’Giollán, Sean Moran and Gavin Hartnett particularly prominent.
Passes were now sticking and strong running both on and off the ball was creating space which the Cuala team exploited ruthlessly. Gavin, Cathal, Dylan, Donal, Dan Keating and Ronan Sweeney all tagged on points as the score built. The slick teamwork also continued to open up the route to goal and Sean Moran twice, Cillian Sheanon and Dan Keating all goaled after the second-half water break.
FINAL SCORE: St Maur’s 1-7; Cuala 7-13
So a 24 point win in the end thanks to a very strong second half performance in which the team showed their true colours. Once they upped the tempo, Cuala dominated the ball and played incisive football which was great to watch.
The team have a huge game on Sunday against Ballyboden which will go a long way to deciding the league winners. Our fate is in our own hands. A full hour like the second Rush half hour is what is required.
AFL5 League Table