Cuala (Dublin) 1-17 Liam Mellows (Galway) 0-11
All-Ireland club hurling champions Cuala are back in the final after Mattie Kenny’s side easily accounted for Galway’s Liam Mellows in Thurles.
Con O’Callaghan hit four points from play for Cuala, while David Treacy helped his side pull clear in the second-half with seven points, while substitute Brian Fitzgerald fired a late goal for the Leinster champions.
Cuala will meet 2016 winners Na Piarsaigh of Limerick in the final on St Patrick’s Day, but on this form they will be hard stopped as they bid for back-to-back titles.
Watch as Cuala defeat Liam Mellows to book a place in the AIB Club Hurling Final against Na Piarsaigh on St Patricks Day. pic.twitter.com/XPEdoDyAxU— The GAA (@officialgaa) February 10, 2018
Lining up with two in their full-forward line, Cuala managed to create great space for O’Callaghan and Nicky Kenny to work with, and even with spare man David Collins sweeping in front of his full-back, the Leinster champions still frequently put the ball in O’Callaghan’s hand.
Captain for the day David Treacy – Paul Schutte was replaced by brother Mark before the game – opened the scoring after three minutes from the left, while Mark Schutte doubled that lead from the same side a minute later.
Adrian Morrissey’s eight points were key to Liam Mellows first county final win in 47 years, and he got off the mark in the fifth minute from a placed ball on the right.
O’Callaghan got up and running in the sixth minute when he snuck off his marker Michael Conneely and made a yard to score, but a Morrissey free from halfway made it 0-3 to 0-2 after ten minutes.
It was at that point that Cuala’s game went up a level and they began to make the most of O’Callaghan’s pace and power. A ball into space from Jake Malone saw him score after David Collins lost possession at halfway, while Sean Treacy was afforded too much time to pick the pass into the full-forward after 17 minutes for his third.
And moments later O’Callaghan made the most of an ugly ball in, which he won above Conneely, to draw a foul that David Treacy converted.
It was hard to see Mellows recovering at that point as they failed to gain a foothold around the middle, but with Morrissey in superb free-taking form from distance, they bypassed much of that mass of bodies.
Either side of two huge frees from Morrissey, Mellows’s Conor Kavanagh struck the point of the half when he picked, turned and fired a score from wide on the left.
Kenny and Collum Sheanon added points for Cuala before the interval – all but one of their points came from open play – as the three-in-a-row Dublin winners led 0-8 to 0-6 at the interval.
Straight from the throw in, Cuala could have taken a massive step towards victory when Darragh O’Connell gathered the break at midfield and took off towards goal. A goal looked a certainty, but his batted effort off the stick lobbed over Kenneth Walsh’s crossbar.
Nevertheless, the All-Ireland champions soon pulled further clear. Two frees from David Treacy sandwiched a simple O’Callaghan point, while Treacy’s third free of the half made it 0-13 to 0-6 by the 37th minute.
Another Morrissey free kept Mellows in touch, although Sean Treacy’s point from play at the other end chalked out that effort after 43 minutes.
Morrissey again found his range and Aonghus Callanan tagged on a point for Mellows, but Treacy’s accuracy from placed balls meant Cuala had an easy canter to the finish line.