Awesome Kierans take title

St Kierans, Kilkenny 1-15

Understandable then, the delight of St Kieran's coach Tom Hogan after seeing his side produce the ultimate display at Clonmel on Saturday to crush the title hopes of St Colman's in a one-sided All-Ireland Colleges A SHC final.

"You dream of days like this," said Hogan. "I don't ever remember a performance like that from a St Kieran's team. It was brilliant to hold such a display for All-Ireland day. We had hoped to win the toss and play against the wind, but we didn't and I was a bit concerned how the lads would go.

"Obviously we needed a big lead and I suppose 10 points was a very good cushion to turn over with. But we were helped in no small way by the sending off of a Colman's player in that first half.

"Colmans were expected to come at us in the second half but our forwards were magnificent. They acted as defenders never allowing their backs to clear easily and kept the ball in their half for long periods.

"Today was a day when everything worked out for us and I'm delighted for everyone involved. Last year we fell to Colmans in the final by a point and we set our sights last September on today.

"There was going to be no repeat of what happened in Thurles this time last year. We have the utmost respect for St Colmans as a hurling college, but today is our day and what a performance to give in an All-Ireland

final," he said.

Rarely has this writer seen such a display of power, pace, hurling and skill by an under age team. It was simply awesome. There was hardly a weakness in Kierans and current Kilkenny senior coach Brian Cody could be forgiven for chuckling to himself at the depth of hurling talent coming through the schools in his county.

It would be difficult to pick out any one player for special mention, so good was everyone of them. But the performance of full back John Tennyson was absolutely flawless.

In the air or on the ground, this powerfully built 6ft 3in youngster completely blotted out the danger of Colmans captain Andrew O'Shaughnessy.

"We've our eye on him all right," said Cody. "He's a great talent, and there are a couple more of them on that team that will make it onto the county senior team in time," he said.

Cody's son Donncha, the Prendergast brothers Neal and David, son of former Kilkenny stalwart Paddy, and Richie Power, son of another former great of the same name, were other jewels in Kieran's crown.

With 12 of the team eligible for the minor grade, any county with designs on Kilkenny's All-Ireland title at this level this year will have to think again.

Colmans can have no complaints. Their cause wasn't helped by the loss of regular defenders Conor Griffin and James Dorgan with injury, but it is doubtful if the Fermoy college would have beaten Kierans had they been at full strength, and their coach Denis Ring said as much.

"I had seen Kierans play three times in this year's championship and in my 18 years involved in colleges hurling, I have never seen a team like them," said Ring.

"Had we been at full strength it would only have meant we'd have been a little more competitive. Kierans were in a different class today and good luck to them," he said.

Backed by the very strong wind Kierans set about putting up a good score and hurling with supreme confidence led 0-7 to 0-0 after 25 minutes before O'Shaughnessy finally got the Fermoy college on the scoreboard with a point a minute later.

Colman's defence, in particular full back Brian Lane, was coping well with the enormous Kieran's pressure, and only the thickness of the crossbar denied Richie Power a goal before disaster struck for the defending champions.

Mark Cleary had come on as a blood sub for Seamus Stack but lasted barely 15 seconds after he flattened Kieran's Eamon O'Gorman. The referee had no alternative but to red card the offender and it gave 14-man St Colmans a mountain they were unable to climb in the second half.

Fergus Browne was sacrificed as Stack came back for the second half but Kierans continued where they left off and when Eoin Reid's shot found the net seconds after the resumption there was no way back for Colmans.

Kierans were rampant and there was little Colmans could do to stop them.

Only some superb defending by goalkeeper Denis Fitzgerald, who made one magnificent double save, and full back Brian Lane prevented their side from falling further behind.

It was fitting that Fitzgerald should emerge as Colman's top scorer when his free from his own 45-metre line went all the way to the Kieran's net, but it was only a token score as the Kilkenny side finished with a succession of points to run out comfortable winners of their 15th All-Ireland colleges senior hurling title.

Scorers St. Kierans: R. Power (0-3 frees), J. Fitzpatrick (0-2 frees) 0-4 each; E. Reid 1-0; D. O'Neill, M. Bergin 0-2 each; E. O'Gorman, J. Murphy, M. Nolan 0-1 each.

St Colmans: D. Fitzgerald 1-0 (free); A. O'Shaughnessy 0-2; P. Kirby, P. Kearney 0-1 each.

ST KIERANS: J. Connolly; D. Cody, J. Tennyson, N. Prendergast; P. Butler, D. Prendergast, J. Walsh; J. Fitzpatrick, D. O'Neill; J. Murphy, E. O'Gorman, R. Power; M. Nolan, E. Reid, M. Bergin. Subs. D. Bergin for Murphy; K. Lanigan for M. Nolan; J. O'Farrell for Butler; S. Prendergast for Power; J. Quaine for Bergin.

ST COLMANS: D. Fitzgerald; C. O'Connor, B. Lane, E. Condon; K. O'Mahony, A. Kearney, J. O'Donnell; S. Stack, P. Cotter; P. Kearney, F. Brown, C. Coakley; M. Allen, A. O'Shaughnessy, P. Kirby. Sub. S. Barrett for Cotter.

Referee: S. McMahon (Clare).

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