Kieran’s and Colman’s are set to provide battle royal

ST KIERAN’S has long been a prolific nursery for Kilkenny senior hurling, best illustrated by the fact that 10 of Brian Cody’s All-Ireland winning team of last year came up through the ranks of the renowned hurling college.

“Apart from the guarantee of a first-class education, students go to Kieran’s for the hurling.

"You could say it forms part of their education,” said Cody, himself a former pupil of the college and whose son Darren is a member of this year’s team.

“I loved my time at Kieran’s. We were involved in two All-Ireland finals, winning one and losing one to Farranferris, who had a great team in the 1970s.

“Colleges like Kieran’s and Colman’s are great training grounds for young hurlers, and games between them are a stepping stone to the minor and other grades.

"So, it’s fitting today’s All-Ireland final at Clonmel (3.30 pm) should be between these two great hurling nurseries. There is enough talent on both teams to produce a cracker.”

Kieran’s have a tremendous record with 46 Leinster and 14 All-Ireland titles to their credit.

Their last Croke Cup title win was in 2000 when they defeated St Flannans with a team that included Eoin Kelly (Tipperary senior) and Tommy Walsh (Kilkenny senior).

Last year they failed to Colman’s by the narrowest of margins in a final spoiled by the weather.

Kilkenny won last year’s All-Ireland minor title and five of those players, Richie Power, David Prendergast, John Tennyson, Jim Fitzpatrick and Eoin Reid are on the Kieran’s team.

Tom Hogan, who along with John Quaine coaches the team, is concerned about the fitness of John Walsh, who has a hand injury.

“At the beginning of every season the two colleges get together for a challenge game,” said Tom.

"But it’s purely to get our campaigns off the ground after the students return from the summer holidays.

“We have developed a healthy rivalry over the years and whenever we meet a competitive game is guaranteed."

That’s what I’m expecting on Saturday, a typical Cork/Kilkenny match.

Apart altogether from the fact it’s an All-Ireland final, today’s game is huge for their Colman’s coach Denis Ring.

Having coached the college to win every honour, this is his last time in charge of a Colman’s hurling team as he takes over as principal of a new school in Lismore next September.

Having steered his charges to a hat-trick of Harty Cup titles, Ring will want to go out with a bang by steering his charges to their third All-Ireland title in a row.

However, the team have been dealt a hammer blow with the loss of James Dorgan and Conor Griffin.

However, The Fermoy college boast two inter-county seniors in their ranks.

Team captain Andrew O’Shaughnessy and Patrick Kirby are members of the Limerick senior squad and when you add in the Kearney brothers, Aidan and Paul, Brian Lane, Seamus Stack, Colm Coakley, Eamon Condon and Michael Allen, this a side brimful of talent.

For Kieran’s Richie Power stands out.

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