CUALA 4-16 ST VINCENT'S 2-16
Reigning champions Cuala kept their Dublin SHC dreams alive with a hard-earned victory over St Vincent's in this entertaining semi-final at Parnell Park on Sunday afternoon.
The Dublin, Leinster and All-Ireland club holders were made earn their victory but once again they showed their big-game experience in the final stretch to run out two-goal victors.
Inside the last quarter a fine Cian McBride point on the run brought the sides level, 3-11 to 2-14, but the likes of Sean Moran, Darragh O'Connell and Con O'Callaghan stepped up to the plate then to see Mattie Kenny's men to victory.
Two David Treacy frees and a Con O'Callaghan point pushed Cuala 3-14 to 2-14 in front before Con struck for goal, following good graft by sub Shane Stapleton, in the 54th minute to really fend off any chance of an upset.
Vincent's, after trailing 3-8 to 2-7 at half-time with Cuala's third goal coming in the final play of the half, restarted the second half impressively with points from Diarmuid Connolly and two frees from accurate John Hetherton.
There was nothing between the sides then until Cuala fired themselves for the winning scoring surge over the last ten minutes.
In the opening half Vincent's, despite playing into the wind, settled well with points from the pacey Alan Moore, Connolly and a Hetherton '65'.
But Cuala showed their class with a superb five-minute spell that yielded 2-3 without reply.
David Treacy was twice on target, the first a free, before Colm Cronin scored two pretty identical scores as the Dalkey men moved the sliotar with great pace and accuracy to carve open the Vinnies defence.
Cronin showed brilliant timing a real clinical edge close to goal and when Jack Malone tagged on a point it was suddenly 2-4 to 0-3 to Cuala by the 11th minute.
But Vincent's refused to buckle and Hetherton found the net from a penalty that was retaken for an infringement after Sean Brennan had stopped his first effort.
Eight minutes later, in the 23rd minute, Rian McBride made it 2-5 to 2-4 in Cuala's favour, after keeper Brennan had stopped his older brother Cian's initial shot.
Vincent's would have been well pleased with their opening half until Cuala again conjured up a bit of magic in the last play of the half when Mark Schutte fielded a ball and picked out Jake Malone's run on the far side.
Malone made no mistake when firing to the net past Damien Russell to put Cuala into a 3-8 to 2-7 half-time lead.
Cuala will play Kilmacud Crokes in the final next Saturday in Parnell Park (3.30) with the SFC final on the Bank Holiday Monday (7.0) and Vincent's will be hoping that the sight of Diarmuid Connolly going off with what looked like a hamstring injury is not serious as they prepare to face Ballymun Kickhams.
SCORERS – Cuala: D Treacy 0-11 (0-10f), C Cronin 2-1, J Malone, Con O’Callaghan 1-1 each, M Schutte, S Stapleton 0-1 each. St Vincent’s: J Hetherton 1-9 (1-0 pen, 0-6f, 0-2 ‘65’, 0-1 sl), R McBride 1-0, D Connolly 0-2, C McBride, A Moore, C Burke, K Connolly, R Fallon 0-1 each.
CUALA: S Brennan; O Gough, Cian O’Callaghan, S Timlin; P Schutte, S Moran, R Tierney; D O’Connell, J Malone; S Treacy, C Cronin, D Treacy; C Sheanon, M Schutte, Con O’Callaghan. Subs: S Stapleton for Tierney (35), C Waldron for Sheanon (37), N Carty for M Schutte (60).
ST VINCENT'S: D Russell; M O’Farrell, R Trainor, M O’Keeffe; S McCaw, J Cooke, T Connolly; D Connolly, R McBride; G Giblin, A Moore, C McBride; C Burke, J Hetherton, K Connolly. Subs: R Fallon for Giblin (8), F O’Sullivan for Moore (54), C Billings for D Connolly (56), J Walsh for Burke (60).
REF: T Carton (Naomh Fionnbarra).