Cuala (Dublin) 3-17 St Martin’s (Wexford) 0-15
Con O’Callaghan offered another tantalising glimpse of his hurling artistry today with a leading role in all three goals as holders Cuala returned to the AIB Leinster club SHC final, writes Paul Keane.
The newly crowned football All-Star and Young Footballer of the Year helped himself to 1-3 and set up Jake Malone and Colm Cronin for the other majors.
Malone and O’Callaghan scored their goals during a 90-second surge approaching the 20th minute and the south-Dubliners led from there until full-time.
They burned off the Wexford champions in the third quarter of the game when O’Callaghan scored three points and also played in Cronin for the third goal.
Their reward is a December 3 final clash with Kilcormac-Killoughey and the All-Ireland holders will head into that decider, their third in a row, as favourites.
Tomas Codd’s St Martin’s finished with 13 men following 51st and 53rd minute dismissals for Michael Codd and Jack O’Connor, the first a straight red card.
They had a star man in Joe Coleman who hit 11 points and gave an exhibition of free-taking though were generally out-hurled and noticeably out-muscled by a physically stronger Cuala side.
Mark Schutte, the former Dublin hurler who switched to the football setup earlier this year, missed out again for Cuala.
The experienced attacker was named to start at corner-forward but continues to be rested with ankle trouble.
Nicky Kenny took his place and slotted two of Cuala’s first three points as the sides traded scores up to the 19th minute.
St Martin’s led by 0-5 to 0-4 at that point with all of their scores coming from free-taker Coleman who replaced star man Rory O’Connor (knee) in attack.
O’Callaghan is capable of changing games in an instant though and was involved in Cuala’s opening goal before scoring one himself just seconds later.
Malone got Cuala’s first goal after the ball broke free of O’Callaghan during a goal siege and then the young full-forward netted himself with a clever improvised finish after a solo run.
Suddenly, Cuala led 2-4 to 0-5 and were in the driving seat though the visitors dusted themselves down after the horror 90 seconds and got back into the game.
Both sides scored three more points each before the break to leave Cuala with a 2-7 to 0-8 advantage at the interval.
St Martin’s, with veteran Wexford footballer Ciaran Lyng in attack, felt they were well in the game and cut the deficit to four after the restart through Darren Codd.
But four Cuala points in a row put clear daylight between them again and O’Callaghan then rifled off three points before escaping his man again and playing in Cronin for a tap in goal.
Cuala ran in their full allocation of subs in the closing stages and there were points from Niall Carty and Brian Fitzgerald who both came on.
Scorers for Cuala: Con O’Callaghan (1-3); D. Treacy (0-6, 4 frees, 1 65); J. Malone and C. Cronin (1-1 each); N. Kenny (0-3); Colum Sheanon, N. Carty and B. Fitzgerald (0-1 each).
Scorers for St Martin’s: J. Coleman (0-11, 7 frees, 1 s/l); Joe O’Connor, Jack O’Connor, D. Codd and D. Waters (0-1 each).
Cuala: S. Brennan; O. Gough, Cian O’Callaghan, S. Timlin; J. Sheanon, S. Moran, P. Schutte; D. O’Connell, S. Treacy; Colum Sheanon, C. Cronin, J. Malone; N. Kenny, Con O’Callaghan, D. Treacy.
Subs: N. Carty for Con O’Callaghan (51); C. Waldron for Cronin (51); R. Tierney for Cian O’Callaghan (54); S. Stapleton for Colum Sheanon (57); B. Fitzgerald for Kenny (57).
St Martin’s: L. White; W. Devereux, C. Firman, P. Kelly; D. Waters, A. Maddock, B. O’Connor; H. O’Connor, M. Maloney; J. Firman, J. O’Connor, J. Coleman; M. Coleman, J. O’Connor, C. Lyng.
Subs: D. Codd for Coleman (h/t); M. Codd for J Firman (40); B. Maddock for B. O’Connor (50).
Referee: D. Hughes (Carlow).