St Vincent’s moved into third place in the Adult Hurling League Division One table with an emphatic victory against All-Ireland champions Cuala at Pairc Naomh Uinsionn on Monday evening.
Bolstered by an extraordinary goal blitz in the early stages of the contest, the Marino men finished with all of 17 points to spare over Mattie Kenny’s side. While they were comprehensive winners in the end, the dead-ball accuracy of David Treacy allowed Cuala to stay in contention for large spells.
However, Vins were never going to be denied their sixth win of the campaign, as substitutes Eoghan O’Neill and Tomas McGrane rounded off a fine night’s work with late goals.
Since losing out to St Jude’s at Tymon North on May 16, Vins have been on an unbeaten run in the top-flight. This consists of four wins and one draw – an away clash with Lucan Sarsfields in the most recent round of fixtures.
Though Cuala were towards the foot of the table at the beginning of play, they still have a number of games in hand owing to their delayed start to the campaign. Despite being minus the services of Dublin footballers Con O’Callaghan and Mark Schutte – amongst others – the Dalkey outfit started with eight of their All-Ireland winning side.
They were powerless in their efforts to halt the early wave of Vins attacks, though – which produced two goals within the opening 50 seconds of the tie. When the ball broke into his path straight from the throw-in, Keith Connolly (brother of Diarmuid) fired beyond the reach of opposition netminder Sean Brennan.
Connolly’s direct running style caused havoc for Cuala in the first-quarter, and his piercing gallop through the heart of their defence set-up Cian McBride for a sensational second major. The visitors finally settled through Cian Waldron, before a third Vincent’s goal arrived in the fifth-minute.
Alan Moore picked out inside partner McBride with a precise cross-field ball – and the ice-cool full-forward kept his composure to add another three-pointer. This already left Cuala with a mountain to climb and they remained eight points in arrears when a Darragh O’Connell point was cancelled out by former All-Star nominee Ronan Fallon.
Yet, after a couple of positional switches helped them to re-align, the southsiders established a foothold in the proceedings. In the space of six frantic minutes, the reliable Treacy registered four points without reply to offer his side some form of solace.
Even though they coughed up another goal opportunity to the raiding Mark O’Keeffe – his shot floated inches over the crossbar – Treacy’s fifth of the half followed on 18 minutes. Vins hadn’t lost the midas touch in front of goal, however, and they further compounded the Cuala woes by raising a fourth green flag.
Centre-forward John Hetherton raced onto a loose ball to record his opening score of the game and he added a superb point at the end of a subsequent move. Bolger and Colm Cronin then traded scores, only for Vins to create additional daylight via the dependable sticks of McBride and Hetherton.
Cuala rallied with points from Waldron, O’Connell and Treacy, but with McBride also finding the target, Vins were firmly in the driving seat at the break (4-7 to 0-11). Acutely aware of a potential backlash, the hosts reinforced their authority with Brian Bolger and Connolly points on the resumption.
Shane Murphy and Treacy did likewise for their opponents, who also added a score through promising teenager Diarmuid O Floinn. Although this offered them a glimmer of hope, the magnitude of the task at hand was magnified by Hetherton and Alan Moore contributions at the opposite end.
Opening half Cuala substitute Brian Fitzgerald responded with a smart point on the turn but, moving into the final-quarter, Vins found themselves 10 points in front (4-13 to 0-15).
Hetherton’s 0-2 salvo kept them in the ascendancy, even if the exploits of Treacy pegged them back slightly. Bolger’s influence on the play was becoming more pronounced, and he added two points in the space of a minute to effectively place the outcome beyond doubt.
Another Hetherton free kept the scoreboard ticking over for Vins and he would amass a personal haul of 1-8 over the course of the hour. In spite of the best efforts of Cronin and Treacy for Cuala, the northside brigade claimed their fifth goal at the end of normal time.
After catching the ball inside the defensive cover, O’Neill kicked to the net in clinical fashion. There was enough time for Oisin Lanigan to assist the evergreen Tomas McGrane (who made his senior inter-county debut for Dublin all of 20 years ago) for his own three-pointer and McBride then completed the rout by splitting the posts at a tight-angle.
While Vincent’s will have to wait until September 1st for their next league game – a tricky away assignment with second-place Na Fianna – Cuala are back in harness this Wednesday (August 15) against Kilmacud Crokes at Silver Park.
Scorers – St Vincent’s: John Hetherton 1-8 (0-6f), Cian McBride 2-3, Brian Bolger 0-4, Keith Connolly 1-1, Eoghan O’Neill, Tomas McGrane 1-0 each, Ronan Fallon, Mark O’Keeffe, Alan Moore 0-1 each. Cuala: David Treacy 0-11 (10f), Darragh O’Connell, Colm Cronin, Cian Waldron 0-2 each, Shane Murphy, Diarmuid O Floinn, Brian Fitzgerald 0-1 each.
ST VINCENT’S: Lee Dumbrell; Rory Pocock, Sean McCaw, Ciaran Harney; Frankie Power, Ruairi Trainor, Neal Billings; Ronan Fallon, Tom Connolly; Keith Connolly, John Hetherton, Mark O’Keeffe; Brian Bolger, Cian McBride, Alan Moore. Subs: Eoghan O’Neill for Connolly (43), Oisin Lanigan for Fallon (46), Tomas McGrane for Bolger (54).
CUALA: Sean Brennan; Simon Timlin, Oisin Gough, Conal Kelly; Darragh O’Connell, Cian O’Callaghan, Evan Hanley; Sean Treacy, Colm Cronin; Shane Murphy, Colum Sheanon, Diarmuid O Floinn; Cian Waldron, David Treacy, Niall Carty. Subs: Brian Fitzgerald for Hanley (18), Cillian Sheanon for Waldron (55).