ADULT HURLING LEAGUE DIVISION ONE ROUND-UP: MAY 15TH
By Daire Walsh
Following their entertaining draw at Bray Emmet’s on Monday evening, Ballyboden St Enda’s and Cuala continue to lead way at the summit of the Adult Hurling League Division One table.
Having accumulated three wins in succession, the two teams entered their clash in north Wicklow on maximum points. ‘Boden completed a league and championship double in 2018 and, as the season progresses, will become more determined to hang onto their respective crowns.
A brace of one-point victories over Lucan Sarsfields and Whitehall Colmcille ensures they are in pole position in Group Four of the Senior Championship. They had already put St Vincent’s, Ballinteer St John’s and Lucan to the sword in the league, boosting their confidence levels ahead of the resumption in top-flight action.
Under the stewardship of current Sky Blues boss Mattie Kenny, Cuala picked up seven major trophies - including back-to-back All-Ireland titles in 2017 and 2018. They were eventually succeeded as county champions by Ballyboden last October and to mark this achievement, Cuala gave the visitors a guard of honour onto the pitch at the Old Connaught venue.
After a shaky opening to the contest, ‘Boden eventually settled into a familiar stride. Former Dublin hurler Shane Durkin was industrious as ever in the middle-third, while Conor Dooley and Aidan Mellett offered a potent threat in attack.
A well-taken goal from the lively Mellett ensured ‘Boden created an early gap over their southside rivals. Cuala remained in touch early on, thanks to no small part to Colm Sheanon’s ingenuity in the forward line.
Diarmuid O’Flynn and John Sheanon also stood out for Willie Maher’s men, but they nevertheless found themselves starting into a four-point deficit (1-8 to 1-4) at the break. ‘Boden looked set to preserve 100% record when they pulled further in front on the resumption - only for a re-energised Cuala to bring a significant halt to their momentum.
Naoise Waldron was sublime in the second half for Cuala, helping them to edge into the ascendancy during the closing moments of the tie. Despite passing up a number of late opportunities, they left ‘Boden chasing the game with the final whistle approaching.
There was enough time for ‘Boden to salvage a point from the game, however. Dooley was entrusted with a last-gasp free and the ex-Sky Blues netminder made no mistake to secure a share of the spoils for his side (1-16 to 1-16).
Whereas Cuala will face Crumlin at Pearse Park this Saturday, Ballyboden play host to Na Fianna in a mouthwatering encounter. This will be a rematch of last year’s league decider - when ‘Boden emerged with four points to spare (1-14 to 1-10) over their northside counterparts.
Na Fianna lost out narrowly to Cuala on March 24, but got their campaign back on track with a gutsy 0-21 to 0-19 success against St Brigid’s at Russell Park on Wednesday night. They withstood a spirited showing from the home team and are now just one point adrift of the division’s pace-setters.
Less than 24 hours after their senior footballers had suffered a 10-point defeat to St Jude’s at Pairc Naomh Uinsionn, St Vincent’s pulled off a reverse result in the same venue. Supplementing a previous triumph at the expense of Craobh Chiarain, the Marino outfit prevailed against Jude’s on a final scoreline of 1-17 to 0-10.
They currently lie sixth in the league table, with a game in hand on those above them. Capitalising on the stalemate between Whitehall Colmcille and Kilmacud Crokes at Collins Avenue, Ballinteer edged past Craobh Chiarain at Marley Park (1-12 to 1-11) to assume seventh place in the standings.
Owing to their participation in the group stages of the Senior ‘B’ Championship - they fell to a 3-20 to 2-12 reversal at the hands of Na Fianna ‘B’ - Crumlin were not in league action on Wednesday. Lucan were also idle as a result and will be aiming to pick up their first points when they face Craobh Chiarain at Clonshaugh on Saturday.