Sunday, 6th November – AIB Leinster Club SHC 1st Round: Cuala (Dublin) v Borris-in-Ossory Kilcotton (Laois); Parnell Park, 2.00pm
Last season, Cuala followed up on their Dublin SHC triumph by progressing to the AIB Leinster Club final. Now, having retained the county title for the first time ever, they’ll be anxious to go one step further.
This Sunday, they will have home advantage in Parnell Park against Borris-in-Ossory Kilcotton, whose maiden triumph in Laois sparked wild scenes of celebration. Among the tweets relayed on the club’s account were scenes of a bonfire blazing and a uniquely Irish announcement that, ‘Fr Jackie orders church bells to chime’!
And why not. County titles rarely come easy, but Borris-in-Ossory Kilcotton’s journey tested the resolve of all their players and mentors. Their semi-final versus Ballinakill Gaels ended level and the replay almost went to extra-time. A replay was also required after what was described as one of the greatest Laois finals of all time against Rathdowney-Errill. Eventually, Borris-in-Ossory reached the promised land with a 1-18 to 2-12 triumph.
“It was absolutely magnificent,” said team captain Brian Stapleton. “A roller-coaster from the first whistle to the last. When we came back to the parish, it just showed what it meant to people. It brought a whole sense of belonging and community to the whole parish.”
“We’ve a great historical tradition in the parish, obviously, with The Bob O’Keeffe Cup which we won, originally from our parish. The bonfire was lit on Sentry Hill to welcome us back into the parish and Fr Jackie Robinson had the bells chiming several times to greet us. What a wonderful occasion.”
The corner back agreed that their tough route to glory made their victory even sweeter. “We had three replays in this year’s county championship,” he recalled. “So it really stood to us, because we really really had to dig it out and work hard for it. We had that confidence and self-belief to go for it.”
And it proved that the decision of Borris-in-Ossory and Kilcotton to join forces was the correct one. “At underage, we would have been joined up along,” he explained. “There were attempts to join the club, but in 2011 we really sat down and ironed down the hard parts and came to an agreement. We contested the final in 2013 and had some Ok years, but this year it cemented and vindicated the reasons we came together – to succeed and be a successful unit.”
Cuala enter the contest having kept clean sheets in their last two outings. They beat Lucan Sarsfields by 0-13 to 0-7 in the semi-final and Kilmacud Crokes by 1-15 to 0-15 in the final.
Last season’s provincial campaign featured convincing wins over Coolderry (Offaly) and Clara (Kilkenny), but they fell short against a driven Oulart-The Ballagh outfit.
Speaking after the county final, team captain David Treacy said, “All the time after that match (versus Oulart), we felt it was one we left behind us. We didn’t do ourselves justice.”
“So there is unfinished business there for us. But it starts next week again. And we take it match by match. And that’s the only way we can think about it.”
The Dublin forward said they have a “special group” of hurlers in Cuala at present. “And we want to be as successful as we can be. We’re very fortunate. We have a lot of county players on our team. And these things come in waves. You have to take advantage and make hay while you can.”