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Dublin: 1°C Friday 7 May 2021

'We were heartbroken': Cuala used the pain of 2015 defeat as a driving force this year

Mark Schutte bagged 1-1 as the Dalkey club claimed provincial honours.

Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

A YEAR ON from their six-point defeat to Oulart the Ballagh at the same stage last year, Cuala made no mistake this time around.

The Dublin champions ran out nine-point victors over O’Loughlin Gaels of Kilkenny at O’Moore Park yesterday.

County star Mark Schutte, who scored 1-1 in fine attacking display, admitted avenging last year’s provincial final defeat was at the front of their minds.

“Last year we were heartbroken to be honest,” said Schutte. “Coming back this year, it was probably hard to look past but we knew we wanted to win the Leinster championship.

“Setting out at the start of the year we set that as a goal but we had to take it each step at a time. We had a couple of huge battles in Dublin, we nearly got caught there.

“The last three matches we’ve kind of come into our own and credit to the lads, they’ve worked tremendously hard since losing that Leinster final last year, to come back and win it.”

“You’re coming back and you’ve got six games to win a Dublin Championship before you think of a Leinster Championship. We took it as a step by step process and thank God we did. We came out and we really performed in the last few matches.”

They might have won by more but O’Loughlins netminder Stephen Murphy was in inspired form, despite conceding three goals.

“Their keeper was tremendous, he really, really pulled off some amazing saves,” continued Schutte.

“We probably could have kicked on a bit more but we kept out head and made sure we kept ticking the points over and we did that and just kept the daylight between us for the second half.

“They got it to three and we always knew we had the leaders on our team to step up. Lads were winning ball there around the middle.

“Sean Treacy won a couple of very important balls when it was in the melting pot. Lads stood up all over the park and that’s what it takes to win Leinster championships.

“We probably learned a lot from the Kilmacud final. We surrendered a seven-point lead there and it’s something we worked on and we really reset when they pulled it back.

“We went in at five up, they pulled it back to three but we knew, we just kept refocusing ourselves and we could finish strong.”

Cuala will face Ulster champions Slaughtneil in the last four of the All-Ireland series next February, but for now Cuala plan on enjoying the moment.

“We’ve waited 12 months for this. We’re going to enjoy this for the next couple of days. We’ll sit down over the next few weeks and really look at Slaughtneil.

“Slaughtneil have done incredible things up in Ulster so they’re going to be a huge task for us. We’ll sit down over the next couple of weeks and look forward to that but we’ll enjoy tonight anyway.”

O’Loughlins boss Aidan Fogarty, who won two All-Irelands with Offaly in the 1980s, felt a poor start cost his team.

“We were very conscious of being slow out of the blocks against Oulart and we said we couldn’t let that happen against Cuala, because if they got a couple of early goals we could struggle and that’s the way it happened.
Fogarty added: “You can plan to counteract these things but on the day it just didn’t happen for us and they scored good goals and we were lucky we didn’t give away another few as well. Stephen Murphy make a few great saves right through the game.

“The ambition was to get a Kilkenny championship and take it on from there. Once that’s achieved then, it’s to win a Leinster championship and it’s very disappointing. The better team won on the day, we can have no complaints about it.”

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Kevin O'Brien

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