Derek Ryan at Croke Park
Cuala are All Ireland hurling champions!
The Dalkey men have become the first Dublin club to take home the Tommy Moore Cup, after a stunning and well deserved 2-19 to 1-10 win over Ballyea at Croke Park this afternoon.
With both sides competing in their first All-Ireland deciders, Cuala were given a boost ahead of the game, when Paul Schutte was passed fit to start in defence, having missed the All-Ireland semi final win over Slaughtneil through injury.
It was an edgy opening period, with Cuala ahead by just 0-3 to 0-1 after 10 minutes.
The Dalkey side then hit the net in the 14th minute.
Colm Cronin latched on to a knockdown from Con O'Callaghan inside the 20 metre line, and the Cuala Number 11 smashed the ball to the net.
That gave Cuala a lead they would never relinquish.
O'Callaghan himself could have had a second goal on 22 minutes, which would have all but killed the tie.
The sharpshooter went on a superb run, but stumbled at the crucial moment, as his looping shot came off the crossbar.
Mattie Kenny’s men went in 1-07 to 0-04 clear at the break.
They had keeper Sean Brennan to thank for keeping that lead early in the second half.
He produced a superb save from Ballyea’s Pearse Lillis just after the restart, to stop a certain goal, which would have breathed life back into the Ballyea challenge.
Instead Cuala struck 3 points in a row, to move 1-10 to 0-04 ahead with 25 minutes left in the game.
The sides traded points in the second half, as Ballyea refused to go down easy.
David Treacy was excellent again today from placed balls, striking 9 points in total, eight of those from frees.
Cuala were the better side and looked to be coasting to victory- until the 50th minute, when the Clare champions struck the net.
The excellent Niall Deasy, who had also been excellent from placed balls for Ballyea, netted with 10 minutes to go to reduce the gap to 3 points and give the Bannermen some late hope.
However, Ballyea failed to build on that- indeed that goal was their last score, as Cuala reacted superbly to conceding that goal.
Darragh O’Connell hit an inspirational point straight away to extend their lead to 4 points.
And then midfielder Jake Malone put the game to bed with 7 minutes to go, as he slammed home the Dalkeymen’s second goal.
The Cuala Ultras celebrate at the final whistle. Credit ©INPHO/Donall Farmer
Late scores from Man of the Match O’Connell, Mark Schutte and sub Colum Sheanon put a gloss on the scoreline, as Cuala were comfortable in the end.
The Tommy Moore Cup is going to Dalkey, with the Cuala Ultras set to celebrate long into the night!