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Thursday 25 May 2017

Cuala kings can revitalise Dubs

'This can only be good for us,' says Treacy as Dalkey Eight prepare to switch focus

David Treacy (left) and Mark Schutte of Cuala celebrate after the AIB All-Ireland Club SHC final victory over Ballyea at Croke Park
David Treacy (left) and Mark Schutte of Cuala celebrate after the AIB All-Ireland Club SHC final victory over Ballyea at Croke Park

David Treacy has enjoyed momentous days in a Sky Blue jersey, but what happened last Friday was "a different feeling" and, all things considered, probably the greatest ever.

"It's something that I never dreamed of, that us as a club would be able to do," he said of Cuala's march to the top of the AIB All-Ireland club hurling mountain.

But dreams evolve; focus switches. It has to, given the vagaries of the GAA calendar and how it affects club trailblazers who also happen to be county players.

So it is with the Dalkey Eight - Treacy, Cian O'Callaghan, Oisin Gough, Seán Moran, Jake Malone, Darragh O'Connell and the Schutte brothers, Paul and Mark. All-Ireland club kings on a Friday; Dublin hurlers once the celebrations subside.

This Sunday's crucial Allianz Hurling League date with Kilkenny in Parnell Park may come too quickly for the Cuala crew, although that's open to conjecture: Ger Cunningham had given all eight their space in the run-up to March 17.

But now, fresh from adding Ballyea to their list of double-digit victims, Treacy is adamant that this is not just an epic achievement for Cuala, but a huge boost to the county's recently flickering fortunes.

"Ger has been supportive of us from day one. He's always sending us texts, he's always been supportive … this is good for Dublin hurling," the 27-year-old declared.

"Our hope is that when we switch our focus after a couple of days' celebrating, we'll reinvigorate the guys."

Atmosphere

In their absence, Dublin have won just one of their four Division 1A fixtures, leaving them staring at a relegation play-off unless they can topple Kilkenny and other results go their way. "I know the atmosphere has been brilliant," Treacy pointed out - but he believes their return can deliver a timely boost.

"This can only be good for us," he enthused. "The likes of Jake - I think he's only lost one championship match for Cuala. These lads are used to winning, and it's that winning mentality that we hope to bring as well."

For Treacy, All-Ireland coronation was made extra-special by the presence of younger brother Seán on the team and the knowledge that his father John, a Cuala icon and former Dublin captain, was looking on from the stand.

"It may be all the clichés you want, but it's true - it's a family business," he reflected. "My father taught me how to play hurling; he coached me underage. I know Karl (Schutte) taught Paul and Mark growing up. The Holdens, O'Callaghans, Waldrons - everything is family-orientated. And the lads that we've come to know these past five years are coming to get like family.

"I live with three of the lads - Brian Fitzgerald, Cian Waldron, Paul Schutte. It's just amazing. And another friend of mine, Gary - he's our number one supporter!"

Even though Cuala won every match in Leinster and beyond by at least nine points, he harked back to "a lot of close calls" in Dublin.

"Against Crokes we were up by seven and then they clawed it back, a nine-point turnaround and they're up by two. There must have been doubts creeping into your mind when they're two up," he recalled.

"We have been lucky in a lot of regards ... I mean, Con (O'Callaghan) coming in for the Leinster championship, adding that X-factor. So there's no doubt we've had a bit of luck, but you need that to get through this campaign."

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