Some matches are instantly forgettable, some linger in the mind for a couple of days… but this one will live long in the memory for those privileged enough to have witnessed it! What a game! The determination and effort from both sets of players was heart-warming to see, and the standard of hurling was sometimes sublime. Cuala’s players were brim full of heart and effort and had a ‘never say die’ attitude that would stand to them by the end of this pulsating game. Managers were locking horns on the side-line, the pedigree of the referee was called into question, but, at the end of the day, it was Cuala’s young die-hards that were still standing. The game started at a rapid pace. Crokes looked very dangerous up-front. Davy Nash and ‘man-of-the-match’ Tom Magee were working like dogs in midfield, using their height to catch ball and attack the Crokes defence. Conor Newman, Kevin Kirwan and Tiernán Dunne were outstanding in the Cuala half-back line, and young George O’Connor was having a ‘stormer’ at full-back. Cuala had racked up a number of super points mostly from long-range efforts and led 0-5 to 0-3 before the first goal arrived. The Cuala front-men Cian Rellis, Mickey Power and Charlie Crown were pummeling the Stillorgan goal all day, but the Croke’s keeper stood firm and stopped everything that was thrown at him. He gave an awesome display between the sticks. The break-through came on 25 minutes, but, as was the case on three occasions in the game, the Kilmacud Crokes full-forward line hit back with a goal almost instantaneously. That made for a pulsating game with nerves on both lines were stretched to the limits. The teams went in at the half-time interval on a score-line of 1-7 to 2-3.

Both teams came out in the second half with renewed vigour and the game reached new heights. The passing and movement from the Dalkeymen was excellent, but the long-ball approach from Crokes was causing difficulty at the back. Craig Finn, Bernard O’Sullivan and Lorcan McGrath began to dominate as the game wore on and Cuala began to rack up the points. Cuala’s second goal was not long in coming but it only had the effect of rallying the Kilmacud players who promptly put 1-2 on the scoreboard. Cuala went up-field again and extended the lead again to 5 but Crokes pulled it back with their fourth goal. Cuala were finding it difficult to shake off the challenge. Now the game was being played at a frenetic pace with both sides throwing everything into the fire. With light fading fast and ‘Cuala’s diamond’ of Kirwan, Magee, Nash and McGrath holding sway, the referee brought the curtain down on a memorable game. Final score was 2-16 to 4-7, a 3-point victory for the Reds.

Footnote 1: Congratulations to Chris Molumphy & Cionnait Mac Gearailt and all the other adults associated with this team. It is not easy to keep a second team motivated, but days like this will make it all worthwhile. It was great to see the support from the U15 players today and the U16As who came out in numbers to support their friends.

Footnote 2: In the remainder of the U16 D Hurling Championship, Na Fianna play Peregrines, St. Maurs play Commercials, and RoundTowers play Castleknock on Saturday 6 September.

Team: Cillian O’Feinneadha, Eoin Puplett, George O’Brien, Conor Newman, Kevin Kirwan, Tiernan Dunne, Tom McGee, Davy Nash (0-1), Lorcan McGrath, Craig Finn, Bernard O’Sullivan, Cian Rellis, Michael Power, Charlie Crown, Nessan MacGearailt, Niall Morrissey, Paddy Lewis, Conor Doherty, Jack Twomey, Tadhg Sheridan. Referee: Caomhan Bermingham (Naomh Olaf’s).