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Dublin: 14 °C Thursday 19 July, 2018
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Mattie Kenny plotting for champions from his native Galway in All-Ireland semi-final

Liam Mellows will be Cuala’s opponents next spring.

CUALA MANAGER MATTIE Kenny must plot for opposition from his native county in next February’s All-Ireland semi-final.

Cuala players celebrate at the end of the game Source: Inpho

Liam Mellows caused an upset out west by bridging a 47-year gap between Galway SHC titles yesterday, and they’ll take on the back-to-back Leinster champions in the last four clash in 2018.

“Galway always bring a huge challenge,” he said after their win over Kilcormac/Killoughey in O’Moore Park.

“They’ve won this competition as much if not more than any other county. Any team out of Galway in club hurling, especially with the way hurling in Galway is at such a high level at the moment, that’s going to be a huge challenge for us but that’s for another day.”

Cuala scorched the competition in the province to become the first club from the capital to even win a pair of Leinster titles, let alone do the two-in-a-row. The long rest Kenny afforded his players during the summer has clearly benefited them.

They looked jaded when they lost Dublin group game to Ballyboden back in April, but they’ve recovered spectacularly since that defeat and haven’t lost a championship game since.

“We worked really hard last year and over the winter to peak in February and March. After the All-Ireland final we consciously took a break.

“We had two games in play at the end of April, early May. We had to win one of them two games to get to September and that’s what we did.

“Once that was out of the way we took a good long lay-off and gave the lads time off so when we got back in September they would be fresh and hungry to go again.”

Mattie Kenny Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

The Dublin kingpins comfortably accounted for the challenge of the 2013 All-Ireland finalists yesterday, with a dominant display from the half-back line, while David Treacy was at his brilliant best from place balls and scored 0-10.

“We went after that first quarter. We wanted to set the tempo. Got the few early scores. Missed a few as well. They defended well. Con was in early for a goal but they got back on him very, very quickly. We keep building that score. That first quarter gave us a lead that we were able to take into the second half.”

Kilcormac/Killoughey boss Stephen Byrne bemoaned the poor start that left them 1-8 to no score behind inside 18 minutes.

“After any final that you lose, you’re asking questions – ‘Could we have done this, could we have done that?’ he told Midlands 103.

“It’s after being a masive year for us. I can’t fault those guys. Even under pressure today, they fought back. We put in some great shifts.

“The first 10-15 minutes, we were all over the shop. They blew us out of the water … it just didn’t seem to work out for us on the day, we came in a bit flat-footed. But, looking back on it, it’s just one of those things.”

Conor Mahon’s red card at the end of the first-half allowed Sean Moran clean up as the spare man in front of his full-back line.

Kenny went on: “Sean Moran especially was exceptional. He drifted across the line. I thought he did really, really well on the puck-out, as did John Sheanon and Paul Schutte.

“Paul going off was a bit of a loss to us because I thought he was playing exceptionally well at the time. That half-back line dominated very strongly which was a big help to us.

“That’s what happens when backs go too far up the field!” smiled Kenny on Schutte’s injury. “He just strained his hamstring.”

Schutte, whose brother Mark remains absent with a broken foot, is optimistic about his chances of returning in time for the semi-final, which is two months away.

“I’ll nurse it over Christmas and hopefully be ready for the semi-final,” he said.

“Hopefully we can push on. We’re still a young teams so hopefully there’s a lot more left. in us. I hope Mattie gives us a few weeks off – but you never know with him!”

The42 has just published its first book, Behind The Lines, a collection of some of the year’s best sports stories. Pick up your copy in Eason’s, or order it here today (€10):

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