On Saturday afternoon, the Raheny U-13 Hurlers travelled southside to Cuala's Thomastown pitch. We knew this would be a challenging game - Cuala were ranked 3rd and definitely an in-form team in Division 2 judging by recent results. But the sun was shining, and we had a full squad out with 3 subs, and the Raheny lads were definitely up for it.
Cuala won the toss and opted to play with the fairly strong breeze for the first half. From the off, this was a high-intensity game, with Tom O'Donnell and Mark Murphy in particular showing tremendous energy in Raheny's mid-field. Cuala put the first score on the board, and overall showed very good accuracy from range and great passing skill. Raheny responded well though, and having played against the wind, we felt we were in reasonably good shape at the break, just 5 points behind at 0-8 to 0-3.
Shortly after play resumed, Cuala put the ball in the Raheny net, to pull 8 points clear. The Raheny lads put up a fierce defence, with the full-back line of Donal O'Byrne, Matthew Lodge and John Sherlock deserving real credit. As the game wore on, Cuala continued to pick off excellent scores from distance. Raheny were more-or-less matching them for points, but another goal by Cuala put them further ahead. There were a couple of goal-mouth scrambles in front of the Cuala posts that should have reduced the deficit, but lady luck was not smiling on the team in maroon, and the net eluded us.
It finished Cuala 2-13 to Raheny 9 points, respectable but not quite good enough! At least we had the Dublin-Mayo semi-final replay to look forward to, and the result from Croker certainly raised the spirits of most.
Man-of-the-Match: Jamie Herbert, Mark Murphy & Leon Coakley joint winners.