Cuala 1-17 Liam Mellows 0-11
Joel Slattery reports from Semple Stadium
The champions of the last two years will face off in the AIB All-Ireland Senior Club Hurling Final after Cuala defeated Liam Mellows to set up a St Patrick’s Day date with Na Piarsaigh.
While it wasn’t a vintage performance in the Home of Hurling, it was a professional display, especially in the third quarter as they outscored the Galway champions 0-6 to 0-1.
Cuala cruised through the Leinster Championship, scoring an average of 26 points per game in wins over Dicksboro, St Martins and Kilcormac/Killoughey.
While the champions weren’t quite so prolific in front of the posts on Saturday evening, they got the job done and now look forward to a huge meeting with 2016 kingpins Na Piarsaigh of Limerick on St Patrick’s Day.
David Treacy and Con O’Callaghan excelled as the side who defended their county and provincial title are just one step away from winning back-to-back All-Ireland titles.
O’Callaghan was on form early on with two super points in the first ten minutes giving the Dalkey men a 0-4 to 0-2 lead.
After Jake Malone’s ball in, a super touch from O’Callaghan led to the dual star giving the Leinster champions a double-scores advantage early on.
Liam Mellows, who were not as free-scoring as Cuala in the latter stages of their county championship relied on the free-taking of Adrian Morrissey for their early white flags.
O’Callaghan added a third before a David Treacy free had the men from the capital 0-6 to 0-2 up after 18 scrappy minutes in Thurles.
A third Morrissey free closed the gap before a super effort from Conor Kavanagh from the sideline reduced the gap to two.
This was Liam Mellows’ first score from play after 22 minutes and energised their vocal support.
Two monster Morrissey frees either side of Nicky Kenny’s effort from Cuala meant just a point separated the sides approaching the interval, however, Colum Sheanon ensured that the defending All-Ireland champions enjoyed a 0-8 to 0-6 half-time lead.
It only took Cuala 11 seconds to add to that lead after a huge run from Darragh O’Connell split the defence and the midfielder’s goal attempt went agonisingly over the bar.
This set the platform for the winners as Treacy (2) and O’Callaghan added scores within four minutes of O’Connell’s effort to give Cuala a 0-12 to 0-6 lead.
Treacy added his fifth point before Morrissey got Liam Mellows’ first score of the half in the 38th minute.
They couldn’t garner some momentum after this score unfortunately as a wonderful individual effort from Sean Treacy reinforced the seven-point lead heading into the final quarter.
Aonghus Callanan, who battled hard throughout, got himself a fine score to keep the Galway city club alive with just ten minutes to go.
However, Cuala were just too good and showed just why they are considered the team to beat in club hurling as an injury time Brian Fitzgerald goal saw them emerge from this semi-final as nine-point winners.
SCORERS: Cuala: David Treacy 0-7 (0-4f, 0-1 ’65), Con O’Callaghan 0-4; Brian Fitzgerald 1-0; Mark Schutte 0-1, Nicky Kenny 0-1, Colum Sheanon 0-1, Darragh O’Connell 0-1, Sean Treacy 0-1, Niall Carty 0-1.
Liam Mellows: Adrian Morrissey 0-7 (0-7f); Aonghus Callanan 0-2; Conor Kavanagh 0-1, Tadgh Haran 0-1 (0-1 f).
Simon Timlin, Cian O’Callaghan, Oisin Gough;
Darragh O’Connell, John Sheanon, Sean Moran;
Colum Sheanon, Sean Treacy;
Jake Malone, Mark Schutte, David Treacy;
Colm Cronin, Con O’Callaghan, Nicky Kenny.
Diarmuid Flynn for Simon Timlin (44 minutes)
Cian Waldron for Colum Sheanon (44 minutes)
Niall Carty for Nicky Kenny (51 minutes)
Brian Fitzgerald for Mark Schutte (56 minutes)
Ross Tierney for Cian O’Callaghan (60 minutes)
Sean Morrissey, Michael Conneely, Cathal Reilly;
Mark Hughes, David Collins, Stephen Bennett;
Jack Hastings, Kevin Lee;
Conor Hynes, Tadgh Haran, Ronan Elwood;
Adrian Morrissey, Aonghus Callanan, Conor Kavanagh.
Jack Forde for Conor Hynes (41 minutes)
David Fahy for Ronan Elwood (43 minutes)
Stephen Kileen for Conor Kavanagh (57 minutes)
Conor Elwood for Tadgh Haran (60 minutes)
REFEREE: Paud O’Dwyer (Carlow)