ALL IRELAND CLUB HURLING FINAL
All roads led up the M7 again on Saturday but this time only half way up and O Moore Park in Portlaoise.
Once again we filled the buses with our blue army whilst many decided to take to their cars and drive the short journey.
As the crowd filtered into the ground Seoirse Laffan was like the ring leader with his massive flag in toe.
The “Blue army” filed in and occupied a fine section of the stand and were in great voice.
We began the game a lot quicker than the drawn game and were a few points up inside the first ten minutes courtesy of Adrian Breen who was causing all sorts of problems for Cuala.
Shane Dowling added a couple of points of his own along with Jerome Boylan who chipped in with a beauty on the run from the touch line.
It was nip and tuck with points being traded and there was only a single point between the sides at the break on a 10 points to 9 in favour of Cuala.
The second half was barely restarted when we lost Mike Casey through illness.
Mike was unwell all week and in fairness to him he showed great bravery and guts to even play the first half.
Mikes presence was hugely missed and no sooner did he leave the field Cuala capitalised and hit us for 2 quickfire goals to lead by 6 points.
At the other end Kevin Downes fielded a superb catch before unleashing a bullet like shot which agonisingly rattled the crossbar and over for a point.
Points from Adrian Breen and sub Gordon Brown steadied us even further as momentum swung back our way.
With ten minutes left on the clock Shane Dowling fieded a Podge Kennedy puck out and headed for goal.
His hand pass found David Breen who crashed the ball to the Cuala net to leave the minimum between the sides.
Peter Casey then added a point to make it all square with 7 minutes to go.
Points were traded with ours coming from last weeks man of the match David Dempsey.
As the clock approached full time we hit the front for the first time with a Shane Dowling free.
Unfortunately it was to be our last score as Cuala hit 4 unanswered points to claim their second title in a row.
It is a pity for either team to lose and especially in the manner it was officiated at times.
In the cold light of day the free count from both days leaves alot of unanswered questions.
However we will not dwell on such and instead bask in the glory andpride that this team have given us.
It will take years before we really understand the true value of what the team have given to us and we thank them so sincerely for a wonderful journey which we know will rumble on.
A special word to the management team of Shane O Neill, Kieran Bermingham, Alan Cunningham and Daragh Droog who have guided the lads over the past number of years and we will forever be indebted to them for their wonderful contribution.
We wish them all well as they step down from their posts
Not forgetting the supporters who have been immense all year and again on Saturday they showed their true worth cheering on the lads.We now ask you all not to forget the lads are back in action in a couple of weeks inRound 1 of the 2018 championship v Doon so dont go putting away those hats and flags!!!
Final score in Portlaoise Cuala 2-17 Na Piarsaigh 1-17
Team:Podge Kennedy, Jerome Boylan (0-1), Mike Casey(Tommy Grimes), Niall Buckley, Alan Dempsey, Cathall King(capt), Kieran Kennedy, Will O Donoghue, Ronan Lynch, Shane Dowling(0-5,4 frees),David Breen(1-0), David Dempsey(0-1), Adrian Breen(0-5), Kevin Downes(0-2), Peter Casey(0-2). Subs: Gordon Brown 01- ), Mike Foley, Tommy Grimes, Conor Boylan.