Are we all set for another Cuala All Ireland Adventure?
It’s been almost a decade since Portumna won back to back All Ireland Hurling titles, and this weekend reigning Dublin and Leinster Champions Cuala will attempt to do the same by retaining their crown.
With the Dalkey side being the first Dublin club to win the coveted AIB title outright last year, it’s a massive game in the clubs ever growing history.
If successful, Cuala would join Portumna (Galway), Birr (Offaly), Athenry (Galway) and Sarsfields (Galway) in the elite back to back club.
The Dublin champions have beaten Dicksboro (Kilkenny), St. Martin’s (Wexford), Kilcormac Killoughey (Offaly) and Liam Mellows (Galway) to earn their place in this Saturday’s final.
A huge haul of 7-77 has been registered in those games and with their defence conceding 2-51 (an average of 0-14 per game) it’s put them in a very solid position.
While David Treacy is currently the team’s top scorer on 0-32, fans will be hoping to see more magic from their boy wonder Con O’Callaghan who has again put in some astonishing performances for the club.
Thankfully there’s no sibling rivalry between him and older brother Cian, as Con prepares for what could be his ninth title in just 12 months. The job in hand is retaining their All Ireland title.
“I think Con understands how important it is to have his two feet on the ground.” Cian told the Irish Times.
“It probably helps that he’s with the Dublin footballers, sharing a dressing room with the likes of Brian Fenton, Ciarán Kilkenny, lads who have gone through that extra attention, whether that be the media or the public.”
Both Cian and Con are massively important to the panel and while things might seem to have been plain sailing for Cuala to date, the focus has by no means been averted from the test Na Piaraigh pose this weekend. And the Dalkey men find themselves in a very rare situation, that certainly doesn’t come around that often.
“Our hunger is massive, just as big, if not bigger than last year. You don’t want to be known as the team who won a fluky All-Ireland, or a fluky anything. But having said that Na Piarsaigh want it just as much as us, so it comes down to simple decisions on the day.”
O’Callaghan puts the majority of their recent success down to current manager, and former Galway selctor Mattie Kenny, who has transformed this group into the serious unit thy’ve become.
“In the last three years he’s brought the team to a new level, no doubt about that.”
“Mattie came in four years ago, without any bias, no family ties, he was an outsider and everyone was picked on merit, and I think that was massive, especially our first year.”
Since beating Kilmacud in the county final, Cuala have comfortably traversed the provincial and All Ireland competitions thus far, and Na Piarsaigh have been much the same, meaning we’re in for a serious contest on Saturday, quite literally, between the two best hurling sides in the country. Both teams playing for their second AIB title, but wouldn’t it be something special for Cuala to enter the history books once again? Another moment to savour for this group of players.
“Lads move on, get married, and we want to win as much as we can. It’s is a big achievement to get back here, especially if you win. And the key word here is ‘win’.”