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Cuala to find the edge

Dalkey men look vulnerable but still expected to prevail

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Cuala’s dual ace Con O’Callaghan

Cuala’s dual ace Con O’Callaghan

SPORTSFILE

Cuala’s dual ace Con O’Callaghan

We'll be watching with keen interest when - and it's definitely a case of 'when' rather than 'if' - Con O'Callaghan goes stampeding through on goal in Parnell Park tomorrow.

Last year in the county final, he did so after just a couple of minutes and inevitably enough, got his goal.

But Alan Nolan came out with a tackle that could most charitably be described as reckless and caught O'Callaghan high on his thigh, ending his county final.

Worse.

He missed Cuala's Dublin SFC2 semi-final with Round Towers, Lusk - a game the Dalkey side lost, thus denying them a shot at promotion to the top-flight SFC1.

He missed most of Cuala's subsequent shock Leinster club hurling quarter-final defeat to St. Mullin's, a game remembered more for an incident towards the end of the game when Micheál Ryan, a selector for the Carlow champions, suffered a heart-attack.

You couldn't say for certain what impact a fully-fit O'Callaghan would have had on both results. But given the consistency of his scoring output in both codes, it's not a quantum leap to suggest Cuala could have won.

For his part, Nolan was suspended and missed the opening two games of this year's Dublin SHC 'A', though he played in St Brigid's last group game, a defeat to Faugh's (though Cuala's defeat the previous day to Na Fianna ensured tomorrow's repeat of last year's county decider.)

O'Callaghan didn't play for the Cuala footballers against Parnell's last week but he is understood to be fully fit. And the signs are that Cuala will need him.

Before last year's county final, they were being spoken about as possible All-Ireland champions for the third time in four years.

Now, they're coming off the back of a 3-23 to 2-20 defeat to Na Fianna that made them seem laboured and leaky.

O'Callaghan scored 0-5, all from play, in that game, though he didn't pose the sort of goal threat he does with metronomic regularity in both codes.

Variety

Cuala got little out of Mark Schutte and Colm Cronin - two genuine match-winners - and given how well Brigid's interrupted their flow in last year's final, they'll require a wide variety of threats here.

David Treacy scored 12 frees in last year's decider and of the 19 players who featured for Cuala, only Seán Moran and Treacy scored more than once.

The issue for Brigid's was they didn't hit a particularly smooth attacking flow.

Eoghan Dunne was one the best hurlers of last year's championship and his natural creativity can unpick any defence.

Cian O'Sullivan can be near impossible to stop, once he wins balls and sets his co-ordinates for goal while Paul Winters has a bit of everything and on his day, offers a reliable deadball option.

Brigid's are, however, likely to be without Johnny McGuirk due to a knee injury.

And all told, Cuala have the greater array of talent, the championship-winning experience and an array of influential leaders to drive them to victory here, even if they don't look quite a potent just now as they did in those All-Ireland winning seasons.

ODDS: Cuala 1/5, Draw 11/1, St Brigid's 4/1.

VERDICT: Cuala.

  • Dublin SHC quarter-final: Cuala v St Brigid's(Parnell Pk, Tom, 2.0, Deferred TG4)