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Dublin: 11 °C Wednesday 20 February, 2019

'Springfield and Shelbyville' rivalry, Treacy's dramatic return and Kenny moves on from Dubs disappointment

We run through five talking points after Cuala’s three-point win over Kilmacud Crokes in today’s Dublin hurling final.

1. Mattie Kenny moves on from Dublin disappointment

ABOUT TWO AND a half weeks after he was pipped by Pat Gilroy to the Dublin job, Mattie Kenny led Cuala to their third county title in succession.

Cuala manager Mattie Kenny at the final whistle Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Kenny arrived into the Dalkey club in the winter of 2014 and since then he’s delivered two league titles, three championship titles, one Leinster and one All-Ireland title in three seasons of unprecedented success.

Before Kenny’s arrival, Cuala hadn’t been crowned champions in the county since 1994, but he’s built them into a dominant force in the county. Any disappointment from being overlooked for the top job in Dublin will have been eased at least a little bit with today’s result.

2. David Treacy does a Peter Canavan

Late on in this game, Kilmacud had fought their way back to within a point when Colm Cronin was fouled by Bill O’Carroll under the main stand.

It was vital Cuala scored that free to put some daylight between them and Kilmacud, but their free-taker David Treacy had been withdrawn four minutes earlier.

Without a beat, Kenny immediately reintroduced Treacy, who nailed the placed ball and moments later struck over a fine score from play to seal the win.

It was a key moment in the game and Kenny displayed his nous by bringing back on his most reliable dead ball shooter.

Mickey Harte did something similar with Peter Canavan back in the 2003 All-Ireland football final, withdrawing him at half-time before bringing him back in for the final 10 minutes.

3. Cuala go to the well once again

This was Cuala’s third title in-a-row, but nothing came easy for them during this campaign.

They won their three knockout games against St Brigid’s, St Vincent’s and Kilmacud by an average of just 3.6 points – a sign of the strong competition within Dublin.

In difficult conditions for hurling, Cuala showed they can mix stylish hurling with dogged tenacity. Kilmacud had a flying start to the game and built up a serious head of steam late on, but the reigning champions had the bottle required to see the game out.

4. A second successive county final defeat for Kilmacud

“It’s like Springfield and Shelbyville” was Cuala substitute Shane Stapleton’s succinct assessment of the rivalry between these two south Dublin clubs when he spoke to eir Sport after today’s game.

In a similar fashion to 2016, where Kilmacud lost by 1-15 to 0-15, Ollie Baker’s side fell short by three points once again.

But 12 months ago Kilmacud fell nine points behind in the first-half and in the build-up to this game defender Niall Corcoran spoke about the importance of a bright start.

They did just that today, albeit with a strong wind at their backs, but some poor misses prevented them from pushing further in front.

Kilmacud will feel they’ve got Cuala’s measure in almost all departments, but finding some scoring power to compliment Fergal Whitely and Oisin O’Rorke in attack should be Baker’s number one objective if he remains in charge next year.

Mark Schutte is tackled by Niall Corcoran Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

5. Cuala take on the Kilkenny champions

The Cuala players will be watching the Kilkenny county final on TG4 with interest tomorrow as they’ll be taking on the winners next Sunday in Parnell Park.

The defending Leinster champions open up their provincial campaign against either Dicksboro or James Stephens, who face off in Nowlan Park at 3pm tomorrow.

Last year Cuala could afford to ease their way into the Leinster campaign with ties against Borris-in-Ossory and then St Mullin’s, but this time around they’ll need to find their feet right away against the Kilkenny champions.

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Kevin O'Brien

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