All-Ireland Club SHC final replay: cool Cuala break Na Piarsaigh hearts
March 24, 2018
Cuala captain Paul Schutte raises the Tommy Moore Cup ©INPHO/James Crombie
Three injury-time points got Cuala over the line at the end of an absorbing rematch with Na Piarsaigh at O’Moore Park – 2-17 to 1-17.
These two sides – the champions of 2016 and 2017 – couldn’t be separated at Croke Park last weekend and for most of the hour today it looked like another draw was on the cards. They were level eight times but the winners were odds-on when substitute Nicky Kenny and Mark Schutte both netted in the 38th minute. However, the Limerick kingpins refused to give up and, spurred on by David Breen’s 49th-minute major – had transformed a six-point deficit into a one-point advantage by the time Shane Dowling pointed a 59th-minute free.
Con O’Callaghan equalised as the hour approached; then David Treacy (two frees) and Schutte delivered the telling blows in stoppage time at the end of an astonishing 130-minute contest as Cuala joined Sarsfields, Athenry, Birr and Portumna as just the fifth club to retain the Tommy Moore Cup.
The victors led by ten points to nine at the end of an intense opening period, with Treacy contributing half of their first-half tally (and nine in total) and Adrian Breen clipping over four terrific scores for the Shannonsiders before the break.
Schutte had the Dalkey dynamos up and running inside ten seconds and wing back John Sheanon restored the holders’ lead in the sixth minute, with Dowling cancelling out each of those scores with a Na Piarsaigh free. Adrian Breen’s inspirational brace of points sent the Munster champions ahead by double scores but quickfire points from Darragh O’Connell and Treacy (free, ’65’) nudged the Dublin champions back ahead, 0-5 to 0-4 after 16 minutes.
Teenage corner back Jerome Boylan got Na Piarsaigh motoring again after Sean Moran’s long-range free stretched the gap and a Treacy effort from play made it 0-7 to 0-5; the margin stayed at two as Dowling swapped points with O’Callaghan.
Na Piarsaigh’s Mike Casey and Niall Buckley with Con O’Callaghan and Mark Schutte of Cuala
Adrian Breen’s third and fourth points arrived either side of Treacy’s fourth (free) as exchanges remained nip and tuck. Treacy’s next free was struck out by a magical Kevin Downes interception and strike from a tight angle before the short whistle sounded with the minimum between them.
Peter Casey equalised with the first score after the restart before Jake Malone and Dowling (free) pointed at either end of the park. But the match was turned on its head in the 38th minute when – with injured and withdrawn full back Mike Casey conspicuous by his absence – Kenny and Schutte drilled past Podge Kennedy to the net within seconds of one another to propel the winners into a six-point lead, 2-11 to 0-11.
At the other end, Downes went for goal but his shot flew over off the top of the crossbar. Treacy (free) and Adrian Breen swapped scores as Cuala led by five at the three-quarters stage.
But, following a point from substitute Gordan Browne, Na Piarsaigh were back within the minimum by the 49th minute when David Breen buried the sliothar to the net after a brilliant catch and set-up by Dowling – 2-12 to 1-14!
Casey equalised seven minutes from the end after more great work by Dowling before Treacy (free) and David Dempsey posted scores at either side of the pitch. Dowling’s lead point (free) in the 59th minute was cancelled out instantly by O’Callaghan.
Treacy drilled over a brace of frees in the second and third of four minutes of injury time and Schutte whacked over the last score at the end of a magical match that we all wanted to go on forever. Both teams arguably deserved to win but, alas, ultimately, there can only be one. And it’s Cuala again.
Cuala – Sean Brennan; Oisin Gough, Cian O’Callaghan, Simon Timlin; Darragh O’Connell (0-1), Sean Moran (0-1, 1f), John Sheanon (0-1); Jake Malone, Sean Treacy; David Treacy (0-9, 7f, 1 ’65), Colm Cronin, Colum Sheanon; Mark Schutte (1-2), Con O’Callaghan (0-2), Paul Schutte. Subs: Nicky Kenny (1-0) for Colum Sheanon (25mins), Shane Stapleton for Paul Schutte, (28 inj)
Na Piarsaigh – Padriac Kennedy; Jerome Boylan, Mike Casey, Niall Buckley; Alan Dempsey, Cathall King, Kieran Kennedy; William O’Donoghue, David Dempsey (0-1); Shane Dowling (0-5, 4f), David Breen (1-0), Peter Casey (0-2); Ronan Lynch, Kevin Downes (0-2), Adrian Breen (0-5). Subs: Tommy Grimes for Mike Casey (31mins, inj), Conor Boylan (0-1) for Ronan Lynch (38), Gordan Browne (0-1) for Niall Buckley (40), Mike Foley for Jerome Boylan (58)
Ref: Paud O’Dwyer (Carlow)