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1-2 for Con O’Callaghan as Cuala become first Dublin club to retain Leinster hurling crown

Cuala’s season goes on.

Image: Ken Sutton/INPHO

Cuala 1-23

Kilcormac/Killoughey 1-9

Kevin O’Brien reports from O’Moore Park, Portlaoise

THEIR DOMINANCE CONTINUES.

Cuala won their sixth straight game in Leinster to become the first ever Dublin side to retain the provincial title.

This was proper winter hurling in front of 3,344 at O’Moore Park on a cold December evening, but technically and tactically Kilcormac/Killoughey were no match for their opponents.

Cuala, the reigning All-Ireland champions, will face Galway winners Liam Mellows in the last four next February.

On this form they looked well-primed to retain their crown. Cuala had 1-8 on the board before the challengers scored their first point and ran out comfortable 14 point winners.

Conor Mahon had been doing damage for Kilcormac/Killoughey after his move into full-forward, but his straight red card for an off-the-ball incident with Oisin Gough scuppered his team’s chances.

This was Kilcormac/Killoughey’s 11th game in Leinster since 2012 – the same year they won their first Offaly title. They lost the 2013 All-Ireland title, last lifted the Leinster crown five years ago.

Limiting Con O’Callaghan’s threat was always going to be the key for Cuala’s opponents and while he finished with 1-2 this was about as quiet as he’s been on the hurling field this year.

Conor Mahon leaves the pitch after being sent off Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

Kilcormac/Killoughey were without county player Cillian Kiely, while Peter Healion was patched up after sustaining a footy injury in the previous round. Cuala were once again without Mark Schutte due a broken foot.

As usual, Cuala started with a two-man full-forward line of O’Callaghan and Nicky Kenny, while Colm Cronin drifted out as a fourth half-forward.

The match-ups were interesting, with Oisin Gough keeping Daniel Currams quiet, while Ger Healion started on Con O’Callaghan until 22 minutes when Enda Grogan was moved onto him.

Grogan had a fine game on the Young Footballer of the Year and kept him scoreless from that point, and his defending forced the forward to drop three shots short in the second-half.

O’Callaghan dispatched a 12th minute in his usual manner, collecting a ball in the corner before turning and burning his man for pace. Healion almost looked like he was going backwards as the young star hit a deflected shot into the net, leaving them ahead by 1-3 to no score inside 12 minutes.

Con O'Callaghan with Enda Grogan Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

Cronin helped them dominate the exchanges in midfield, winning nine of the first 10 puck-outs as they pushed 13 points clear, while Sean Moran mopped up everything at centre-back. Kilcormac/Killoughey had just posted their first point when Conor Mahon rolled in a goal shortly after his move to full-forward.

Mahon’s red card right in first-half injury-time made Kilcormac/Killoughey’s 1-10 to 1-2 deficit even more daunting.

The 14-man Offaly side battled hard after the break, with Thomas Geraghty particularly lively in the second period. A couple of Slevin placed balls left them within seven points after the third quarter, but Cuala powered down the home straight.

Scorers for Cuala: David Treacy 0-10 (0-9f, 0-1 65), Con O’Callaghan 1-2, Colm Cronin 0-3, Colum Sheanon 0-3, Darragh O’Connell 0-2 (0-1f), Jake Malone, Cian Waldron and Brian Fitzgerald 0-1 each.

Scorers for Kilcormac/Killoughey: Ciaran Slevin 0-4 (0-3f), Conor Mahon 1-0, Thomas and Peter Geraghty 0-2 each, Daniel Currams 0-1.

Cuala

1. Sean Brennan

4. Oisin Gough
3. Cian O’Callaghan
2. Simon Timlin

5. John Sheanon
6. Sean Moran
7. Paul Schutte

9. Darragh O’Connell
8. Jake Malone

10. Sean Treacy
11. Colm Cronin
12. David Treacy

13. Colum Sheanon
14. Con O’Callaghan
15. Nicky Kenny

Subs

19. Cian Waldron for Schutte (inj, 22)
23. Brian Fitzgerald for Kenny (44)
20. Niall Carty for David Treacy (55)
17. Ross Tierney for O’Connell (59)
18. Shane Stapleton for O’Callaghan (59)

Kilcormac/Killoughey

1. Conor Slevin

2. Killian Leonard
3. Ger Healion
4. Enda Grogan

5. Kevin Grogan
6. Damien Kilmartin
7. Jordan Quinn

8. Thomas Geraghty
9. Ciaran Slevin

10. James Gorman
11. Conor Mahon
12. Peter Geraghty

13. Stephen Leonard
14. Peter Healion
15. Daniel Currams

Subs

17. Alan McConville for Peter Healion (15)
19. James Geraghty for Gorman (52)
23. Conor Quinn for Stephen Leonard (58)
21. Brian Leonard for Gea Healion (59)
22. Cathal Mahon for Quinn (60)

Referee: Sean Cleere (Kilkenny)

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