ON 31 OCTOBER last year, Cuala’s long wait was over.
After endring 21 years without a Dublin SHC title, the Dalkey side are now just one game away from defending their crown for the first time in their history.
But reaching today’s final [throw-in at 15:00], where they will face Kilmacud Crokes, has been far from straightforward for the reigning champions.
Not that inter-county star David Treacy expected anything different.
“When you are the champions, others raise their game against you. It can be extremely difficult at times,” Treacy says. “But it is something you have to cope with and we are still grinding out the wins.”
The Dublin forward believes a winning mentality has developed within the southside club’s setup, a never-say-die spirit that has seen then come out victors in the last two closely-fought rounds.
“I think the extra-time win over Ballyboden in the quarter-finals helped the team mature and we still managed to get a result to reach the final against a physical Lucan Sarsfields team.
“The semi-final against Lucan was a slow burner; the backs won us the match in the end. It was a tough day in tough conditions, and it was just as much about conceding fewer points than scoring more than the opposition,” the 26-year-old continues.
“We were happy to get the result, it’s better to win ugly than lose playing well.”
Treacy was speaking at an AIB launch event where anyone who switches or purchases a new AIB Home Insurance policy can nominate a GAA club of their choice to receive a €50 cash reward.
Treacy is thriving with the added responsibility that comes with playing for his club, and almost single-handedly dragged his team into today’s final, contributing nine of his side’s 13 points in the semi-final, eight of which came from frees.
“I think everybody wants to be the guy your teammates turn to when the side is in need. With the club there is probably a bigger onus to be a leader.
“I’ve worked on the dead balls more this year; just to reduce that margin of error. It slowly becomes robotic and second nature the more you practice.”
Today, Cuala face a stern test against a Crokes side that lifted the trophy in 2012 and again two years later, with the Stillorgan-based club having no such problems in their semi-final, comprehensively defeating O’Toole’s by a twelve-point margin.
“They are a highly experienced team, we’re under no illusions,” Treacy warns.
“We train in the same places, we have the same schools friends, so that will add an extra edge, but it’s a challenge to look forward to.
“Some of our senior members would have played in the 2012 final when they beat us by seven points. But there’ll be no fear; we’ll use it to our advantage.”
Despite Saturday representing his third county final, Treacy still treasures every chance to win more silverware, with that rivalry between the opposing players adding a bit more spice to the occasion.
“It’s rare you’d get a full stadium for a club match, but it’s different for a final, it should be close to full and there’ll be a huge buzz.
“To play for Dublin is fantastic, but this is different. The county team in many ways represents an accumulation of all your hard work through the years.
“But I’ve been playing for Cuala for 20 years, my brother [Sean] is in the team and my father was part of the winning team in 1994, so there’s tradition there.”
Whether the winning tradition continues into this afternoon however, remains to be seen.
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