Con cuts loose in Cuala romp
Cuala 4-16 Borris/Kilcotton 1-14 Leinster Club SHC quarter-final
Just as well, for the hurlers of Borris-in-Ossory/Kilcotton, that Con O'Callaghan has room to improve.
"I still have to work on my hurling. My touch probably isn't up to scratch," suggested the young Cuala forward after yesterday's AIB Leinster club SHC quarter-final at Parnell Park.
For the record, O'Callaghan was speaking just after he had torched the Laois champions, amassing 4-3 from play as Cuala eased to an 11-point victory and a semi-final date away to St Mullin's of Carlow on Sunday week.
It was easy, all too easy, for the two-in-a-row Dublin champions who went for the early kill in Donnycarney. And their assassin-in-chief? A member of Jim Gavin's All-Ireland winning football panel, who wasn't even a starter when they retained their county title.
O'Callaghan came off the bench against Kilmacud and his recent lack of hurling, after a summer/autumn training with the Dubs, helps to explain his post-match modesty.
Not that Borris/Kilcotton boss Ken Hogan was inclined to agree.
"His movement was unbelievable, he headed for goals every time, his power ... he made a huge difference to that team," admitted the former Tipperary netminder.
"I don't know as much about him - he's a brother of Cian, is he? Well, Cian has the pedigree.
"The dilemma for Dublin is that all these outstanding footballers are outstanding hurlers as well, and it's just a pity they don't get the opportunity to play on the big stage in hurling. It would be great to have him ... he was the biggest thorn in our side anyway."
O'Callaghan wasn't even supposed to start. "One of the lads (Nicky Kenny) got an injury in training on Thursday," he revealed. "But I felt good physically and went in with a bit of confidence. It went all right, yeah."
Understatement is obviously another of his qualities. The first-time Laois kingpins were, in the words of their manager, "all at sea" in the opening quarter and Cuala feasted on their floundering start, no one more so than their marauding No 24.
His angled first goal, after seven minutes, brought his personal tally to 1-2 and left Cuala 1-4 to 0-0 ahead. Danny Fitzpatrick's belated riposte was promptly followed by O'Callaghan's second goal (in the 10th minute) as he ghosted onto Seán Treacy's clever pass with the visiting defence cut asunder with ominous ease.
Not even a change of marker could halt O'Callaghan's gallop as he soared above Steven Finan to complete his hat-trick inside half-an-hour.
Cuala led 3-11 to 0-6 at the break, and the first hint of a mini-fightback was snuffed out by O'Callaghan's fourth goal on 40 minutes. He wasn't foot-perfect in that second half (check out one poor wide and two efforts blocked) but his prolific contribution summed up why last year's beaten provincial finalists are serious Leinster contenders.
On a day when Mark Schutte was held scoreless, Colm Cronin tallied just 0-1 and David Treacy, his leg heavily strapped, departed early with victory long assured, he was their latest main man.
Patrick Whelan struck a late consolation goal - to the chagrin of 'keeper Seán Brennan who claimed he had been impeded. Not that it mattered.
SCORERS - Cuala: Con O'Callaghan 4-3, D Treacy 0-6 (5f), C Waldron 0-4, J Sheanon, C Cronin, C Sheanon 0-1 each. Borris/Kilcotton: PJ Scully 0-6 (5f, 1 sideline cut), P Whelan 1-2, D Fitzpatrick, A Dunphy 0-2 each, N Foyle, J Campion 0-1 each.
CUALA: S Brennan; O Gough, Cian O'Callaghan, S Timlin; S Moran, P Schutte, J Sheanon; J Malone, D O'Connell; S Treacy, C Cronin, D Treacy; M Schutte, Con O'Callaghan, C Waldron. Subs: S Stapleton for D Treacy (45), C Sheanon for Waldron (50), R Tierney for Timlin (54), B Fitzgerald for Con O'Callaghan (54), N Waldron for S Treacy (59).
BORRIS/KILCOTTON: E Fleming; S Finan, B Stapleton, N Delaney; C Stapleton, M Whelan, J Fitzpatrick; P Whelan, D Fitzpatrick; D Quinlan, J Campion, S Dunphy; N Foyle, A Dunphy, PJ Scully. Subs: C Kilbane for Delaney (23), S Phelan for Quinlan (ht), B Meade for Finan (43), E Fitzpatrick for S Dunphy (43).
WIDES: Cuala 10 (6+4); Borris/Kilcotton 6 (3+3).
YELLOW CARDS: Cuala 2 (O'Connell 15, Gough 42); Borris/Kilcotton 6 (J Fitzpatrick 1, C Stapleton 24, B Stapleton 33, Kilbane 38, Foyle 42, Meade 52).
REF: P O'Dwyer (Carlow).
ATT: 1,000 (estimated).
MAN OF THE MATCH: Con O'Callaghan.