Treacy points way to new goal
Cuala make an early provincial statement as Coolderry fall short on their own patch
As the Cuala team bus headed west from Dalkey yesterday morning, and the heavens opened with ominous gusto, the new Dublin hurling champions could have been forgiven for thinking: "Do we really want this?"
A first county title in 21 years had just been pocketed eight days earlier - surely that would suffice as ample reward for a ground-breaking 2015?
Several hours later, we had our answer.
Cuala are far from finished. More to the point, they look a team with the appetite for further Leinster glory - and the potential to make that ambition a tangible reality.
With a parsimonious defence led by Cian O'Callaghan, with pace to burn epitomised by midfield raider Darragh O'Connell, and with a forward line carrying the twin threat of Mark Schutte's cutting edge and David Treacy's dead-eyed frees, these Leinster rookies look a team capable of making serious inroads over the coming weeks.
Then again, maybe it's best to reserve judgement. The champions of Kilkenny, Clara, visit Parnell Park next Sunday and - even on enemy terrain - are sure to pose a more sustained threat than Coolderry.
That's the one caveat about yesterday's AIB Leinster quarter-final in O'Connor Park. By the time it came for a match in the midlands, the downpours had abated and the term damp squib was only applicable to Coolderry's surprisingly diluted challenge.
Four years ago, the then-Offaly champions climbed all the way to the provincial summit. Watching them unravel on familiar (albeit hurling-unfriendly) Tullamore turf yesterday, they looked a million miles from that level.
After a tit-for-tat first dozen minutes, they were comprehensively outhurled from there to half-time - but at least a double scores deficit of 0-12 to 0-6 offered the vague prospect of a fightback, given they would have a stiff wind in their backs for the second half.
Instead, the gap kept growing until it became a chasm.
Coolderry weren't helped by the loss of their veteran talisman, Brian Carroll, to a straight red after 44 minutes.
It was all a slightly surreal episode in a match that seldom threatened any combustible outbreaks. As Coolderry prepared for a free-in while Cuala wing-back Shane Stapleton received treatment, the referee's attention was called by his umpires.
The ensuing discussion resulted in dismissal for the Coolderry skipper, who promptly saw red of another kind, making a furious beeline in the direction of Stapleton before he was eventually ushered away to the line.
Very soon after, Stapleton was substituted with a hand injury that leaves a question mark over his availability for next Sunday's semi-final.
Back on the pitch, you could only attempt to argue that Carroll's absence influenced the final margin as opposed to the actual result.
Even that is open to conjecture: Cuala led by eight at the time, and 14-man Coolderry riposted with four of the next six points (all placed ball efforts from Damian Murray) before the wheels came off and they raised a different white flag late on.
This facilitated Schutte in the creation of a couple of goal chances that yielded 1-1 via a tip-over save by Stephen Corcoran and a 58th minute 'major' after the All Star nominee wormed his way past a phalanx of green jerseys.
Much earlier, Cuala's domination of the opposing puckout and breaking ball battleground, coupled with their superior athleticism and sharper touch, had established a winning platform.
Then Treacy went about maximising the dividend with a flawless exhibition of freetaking.
The Dublin forward nailed seven from seven with the elements, adding five more (including one touchline beauty) to make it the perfect dozen. His only 'miss' - if you'd call it that - came from a sideline cut.
The first half difference would have been greater still if Colm Cronin's first-time ground pull had nestled in its intended target. Coolderry could cite a couple of half-chances, Brennan denying Eoin Ryan and Andrew Connolly ... when you lose by 14 points, though, there is little point clutching at straws.
Leinster club Hurling quarter-final
SCORERS - Cuala: D Treacy 0-12f, M Schutte 1-2, D O'Connell 0-2, C Cronin, S Treacy, S Moran, C Waldron, J Malone, N Carty, N Kenny 0-1 each. Coolderry: D Murray 0-7 (6f, 1 '65'), D King 0-2, E Ryan, A Corcoran, K Connolly 0-1 each.
CUALA: S Brennan; R Tierney, C O'Callaghan, S Moran; S Stapleton, O Gough, S Timlin; J Malone, D O'Connell; C Sheanon, C Cronin, C Waldron; D Treacy, S Treacy, M Schutte. Subs: J Sheanon for Stapleton (inj 45), N Kenny for C Sheanon (56), B Fitzgerald for Cronin (60), N Carty for S Treacy (61), E Ó Naoire for M Schutte (62).
COOLDERRY: S Corcoran; S Connolly, T Corcoran, S Burke; A Corcoran, J Brady, K Brady; C Molloy, D King; K Connolly, B Teehan, B Carroll; E Ryan, M Corcoran, D Murray. Subs: A Connolly for Ryan (36), D Parlon for J Brady (48).
WIDES: Cuala 3 (1+2); Coolderry 6 (2+4)
YELLOW: Cuala 2 (Stapleton 8, Fitzgerald 63); Coolderry 4 (K Brady 15, K Connolly 40, T Corcoran 50, S Connolly 63)
RED: Cuala 0; Coolderry 1 (Carroll straight red 44)
REF: D Hughes (Carlow)
Man of the match: David Treacy (Cuala)