Hurling and camogie

Cuala defender Sean Moran ultra positive ahead of Ballyea showdown

Slaughtneil's Se McGuigan tangles with Cuala's Darragh O'Connell during last Saturday's semi-final. McGuigan managed a late goal but the Dubliners were comfortable winners Pic Philip Walsh
Andy Watters

“I HAVE to give a big shout-out to the Cuala ultras," said Sean Moran who had to raise his voice to be heard above a background of giddy excitement after the Dublin and Leinster champions booked their place in the All-Ireland club final last Saturday.

Slaughtneil's fans supported their side to the final whistle and the Dalkey outfit were cheered on by a huge travelling support throughout their semi-final against the Ulster champions and Saturday shoppers in Armagh could have been forgiven for thinking a ‘Where’s Wally?’ convention was being held in the Cathedral City as men, women and children from Dublin sporting eye-catching red and white bobble hats made their way to the Athletic Grounds.

They roared their hurlers on to victory against a determined, but out-gunned Slaughtneil side to become the first club from Dublin to reach the All-Ireland club decider.

The Dalkey outfit will take the field against Clare’s Ballyea on St Patrick’s Day with huge confidence after a mighty impressive display against Derry’s Ulster champions.

Moran was outstanding in defence for the Dubliners and he chipped in with a second half point in the 3-21 to 2-11 win.

“We’re delighted to get the win and we knew that Slaughtneil would be a tough side,” he said.

“We knew they were going well and they had momentum from the football as well so we tried to stick to the basics, do the simple things right and stick to our gameplan.”

Points from dual stars Chrissy McKaigue and Brendan Rodgers had given Slaughtneil an early 0-2 to 0-1 lead, but, with David Treacy outstanding and full-forward Con O’Callaghan leading the way in attack, Cuala quickly overhauled them and had established an impregnable position by the interval.

“Once we got going we played well but in fairness we got a few lucky breaks when the ball fell our way,” said Moran.

“But we put in a great shift and Slaughtneil put in a huge effort as well. We got the breaks and then, once we got on top, we managed to stay on top long enough to see it out. On another day it could have gone a different way.”

Cuala will now change focus to the All-Ireland final and a Ballyea side that saw off Galway’s St Thomas’s 1-19 to 2-14 in their semi-final. The Banner County have produced two All-Ireland champion teams in the past – Sixmilebridge (1996) and St. Joseph's Doora-Barefield (1999) while St Joseph’s and Wolfe Tone’s were beaten finalists.

“It’s great,” said Moran.

“We’re the first Dublin team to make it so it’s a big day for Dublin hurling and for our club. We just have to go out and try and do ourselves proud, we’ll go back to the drawing board and put the work in leading up to the final.”

If the scenes after at the Athletic Grounds last Saturday are anything to go by, Cuala will bring a huge vocal support with them to Croke Park on St Patrick’s Day. The pitch was invaded by a red and white horde who celebrated with the players and management long after the final whistle.

“They give us great support,” said Moran.

“It’s great the way the parish and the community have all got behind us. It’s a great buzz around the place and hopefully we can go one step further on St Paddy’s Day.”

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Hurling and camogie