The victory marked the 150th anniversary of the Christian Brothers’ arrival in the North Tipp town and in doing so they became the third school from the Premier, following the old Templemore CBS (1978) and Thurles CBS (2009) to lift the Croke Cup.
Few teams have deserved an All-Ireland title more than Nenagh CBS having beaten both Thurles CBS and Ardscoil Rís, St Kieran’s College, Kilkenny and Kilkenny CBS on the way, while recovering from the bitter disappointment of losing the Harty Cup final to Coláistí na nDéise.
“I felt we didn’t really perform in the [Harty] final,” said joint-manager Donach O’Donnell.
Captain Jason Forde was to the fore once again and despite not being100% due to the flu, he scored 2-2 and set up his side’s first goal for Silvermines clubmate Paudie Fogarty.
“We couldn’t have dreamed of this at the start of the year,” he said.
“Looking at our record over the last few years nobody could have forecast that we would be here doing it but sheer guts and determination got us here.
“After the Harty final we sat down and said we are going to enjoy for here on. We got too worked up before that final and didn’t show what we could do.”
Forde contributed a high percentage of his side’s scored en route to the final and on the biggest stage of all, James Mackey, Killian Gleeson and Stephen O’Brien stepped forward in the scoring effort with seven points from play between them.
Further back, Donnacha Quinn was excellent at corner-back and despite a slow start, the Nenagh half-back line wore Kilkenny down with Sean Geaney, Jack Peters and Jack Flaherty to the fore.
Kilkenny CBS will be disappointed for not building on their strong start with Philly Campion pointing and Shane Cuddihy finding the net.
James Mackey got Nenagh off the mark a minute later but for the opening quarter Kilkenny CBS dominated with Shane Cassin and Owen McGrath to the fore in defence and Morgan Clifford in attack.
Nenagh started with Seán Geaney as an extra man behind the half-back line but were forced to abandon it in to get back into the game. Moving to midfield Geaney surged forward to point from the left wing.
Kilkenny CBS stretched their lead with two from full forward Morgan Clifford before Nenagh finish the half with 2-3 in a five-minute spell. Firstly a sublime reverse handpass by Jason Forde played in Paudie Fogarty for Nenagh’s first goal and two minutes later Forde latched onto a long ball from Jack Peters before coolly slotting past Darragh Houlihan.
Morgan Clifford responded for a shell-shocked Kilkenny side but points from Forde and Stephen O’Brien helped Nenagh into a three-point interval lead.
The Leinster championship runners-up started the second half the better with points from Kevin Kenny and the excellent Clifford cutting the margin to one. But the crucial third goal for Nenagh came when Forde pulled first time to the corner of the net. Stephen O’Brien and two points each from James Mackey and Killian Gleeson put Nenagh firmly in control.
Kilkenny CBS produced a strong finish with Owen McGrath frees and a goal by Niall Mullins but time ran out as Nenagh held on for a historic victory.
Scorers for Nenagh CBS: J Forde 2-2 (0-2f), J Mackey 0-3, P Fogarty 1-0, S O’Brien, K Gleeson 0-2 each, S Geaney 0-1 each.
Scorers for Kilkenny CBS: M Clifford 0-4, O McGrath 0-3fs, S Cuddihy, N Mullins 1-0 each, P Campion, E Fennelly, K Kenny, R Buckley 0-1 each.
NENAGH CBS: W Power; S Cleary, K Gubbins, D Quinn; E Hynes, J Peters, J Flaherty; J Loughnane, S Geaney; T Gallagher, S O’Brien, K Gleeson; P Fogarty, J Forde (Capt), J Mackey.
Subs: D Peters for Quinn (52 inj); C Delaney for Gubbins (59).
KILKENNY CBS: D Houlihan; S Cassin, E Cody, C McGrath; N Mullins, O McGrath, R Fitzpatrick; D Sheehan, J Langton (Capt); C Doyle, S Cuddihy, P Campion; K Kenny, M Clifford, E Fennelly.
Subs: L Scanlon for Campion (40); D Bolger for Sheehan (46); R Buckley for Cuddihy (46); P Delahunty for Fennelly (58).
Referee: Cathal McAllister (Cork).