Coolderry 0-12 Cuala 1-23

A devastating display of accuracy from David Treacy and a late goal from Mark Schutte were the key scores for Cuala as they easily overcome the challenge of Offaly champions Coolderry at O’Connor Park to reach the Leinster club SHC semi-final, eventually recording a 14-point victory.

Coolderry held their own in the opening ten minutes but badly lost their way under the dropping ball and couldn’t handle the pace and incisiveness of the Cuala runners.

Treacy was on target with all 12 of his shots at goal from the resultant frees, while a late red card for county veteran Brian Carroll only compounded Coolderry’s misery. 

The winners enjoyed reasonable parity in the opening minutes while the sod still offered a consistent playing surface, but their fortunes declined in tandem with those of the field as they struggled to win the increasing number of scrappy, broken plays that resulted from the chopped up turf.

If it weren’t for two wides from Damien Murray – a rare sight in a half when incredible accuracy was the order of the day, particularly from the Dublin champions – they could have given themselves a little bit of a cushion to prepare for the upcoming onslaught.

Eoin Ryan opened the scoring, Murray hit the target with two of his four placed ball chances and David King finished well after he collected a short ’65, but at the other end of the field the power of Mark Schutte in the air and the incredible accuracy of Treacy kept Cuala in the contest as the sides traded scores in the opening ten minutes, neither team ever leading by more than a point.

Three scores in as many minutes for Cuala sounded a warning to the home side however and while Alan Corcoran broke the Dubliners’ run with a neat finish, by now it seemed as if every time the sliothar hit the deck, a Cuala player would emerge from the subsequent ruck with possession secured.

Shane Stapleton and Oisín Gough grew increasingly dominant under Stephen Corcoran’s puck out, and gradually the newly crowned Dublin champions started to pull away, powered by Treacy’s frees and their monopolisation of the war for primary possession.

Coolderry dodged a bullet when Colm Cronin pulled a ground shot wide of the target even though it looked as if he had time and space to lift the ball with just Corcoran still to beat – that strike turned out to be the only wide of the half from Cuala – but gradually, inexorably, the men in red and white started to build up a commanding lead, going into the dressing rooms 0-12 to 0-06 in front.

The aid of the breeze didn’t seem to help Coolderry after the restart either as Cuala continued to add to their advantage, all the while looking more and more like adding what would have been a decisive goal.

The goal may not have arrived until very late in the contest but what little hope Coolderry might have entertained of causing a massive upset was effectively extinguished long before that, when David Hughes’ umpire drew the Carlow whistler’s attention to an off the ball altercation between Shane Stapleton and Brian Carroll midway through the half.

The former Offaly star was shown a straight red card for his part in the skirmish, while Stapleton was substituted and is believed to be a doubt for next Sunday’s semi-final meeting with Clara at Parnell Park.  

Stephen Corcoran was Coolderry’s leading light in the final quarter as he made a string of fine saves to keep the deficit as low as possible, but he could do little to stop Mark Schutte after a barnstorming run from the Dublin player beat three players and left him just ten yards out from goal, or the series of points that flashed over the crossbar in a one-sided final quarter.    

Coolderry: S Corcoran; S Connolly, T Corcoran, S Burke; A Corcoran (0-01), J Brady, K Brady; C Molloy, D King (0-02); K Connolly (0-01), B Teehan, B Carroll; E Ryan (0-01), M Corcoran, D Murray (0-07, 0-06 frees, 0-01 ’65).   

Subs: A Connolly for Ryan (36), D Parlon for J Brady (47)

Cuala: S Brennan; R Tierney, C O’Callaghan, S Moran (0-01); S Stapleton, O Gough, S Timlin; J Malone (0-01), D O’Connell (0-02); C Sheanon, C Cronin (0-01), C Waldron (0-01); D Treacy (0-12, frees), S Treacy (0-01), M Schutte (1-02).

Subs: J Sheanon for Stapleton (44), N Kenny (0-01) for C Sheanon (56), B Fitzgerald for Cronin (60), N Carty (0-01) for S Treacy (60), E Ó’Naoire for Schutte (60+2)

Referee: David Hughes (Carlow)