Yesterday’s final meeting between these two powerhouse nurseries was their third in as many years and with the stakes tied at one apiece, to the victors went the spoils and plenty more.
Kilkenny CBS, bidding to secure back-to-back titles for the first time since the late 60’s, were able to call on six of the 2013 winning team; St Kieran’s, meanwhile, had only two survivors from last year’s defeat.
Central to the former’s victory were the two first-half goals pilfered by full-forward Jamie Byrne, the first arriving nine minutes in. JP Treacy’s delivery was gathered at the second attempt by Byrne and though his initial effort was smothered, his subsequent ground stroke crept over the white paint.
The first goal of the contest moved Kilkenny CBS 1-2 to 0-1 in front and Niall Tyrell’s side motored clear thereafter with points courtesy of Andrew Gaffney (free and ’65) and a splendid effort down the right from Robbie Murphy.
Billy Ryan and Daniel O’Connor replied for Kieran’s, but Liam Smith’s outfit were struggling to eat significantly into the deficit and their task was heightened when Byrne raised a second green flag two minutes from half-time. Andrew Gaffney’s probing delivery was batted straight into the full-forward’s path and the James Stephens youngster was never going to miss the target three yards out – 2-8 to 0-5 the interval scoreline.
St Kieran’s, through free-taker Robbie Donnelly – the contributor of five second-half minors — endeavoured to reel in Kilkenny CBS at the change of ends, a five point difference, however, as close as they would come. Andrew Gaffney continued to prove razor sharp from the placed ball for the winners with JP Treacy, an instrumental figure around the middle, notching his second of the afternoon.
Kilkenny CBS manager Niall Tyrell acknowledged Byrne’s double salvo, in particular his second goal strike, as the crucial scores in the successful defence of their crown.
“We needed a big performance because we knew ourselves we hadn’t been hurling well en-route to the final. We knew if we got a big performance we had every chance of getting over the line. We are just thrilled to get the performance out on the big day,” he said.
“We hadn’t been looking at past finals, there was no one on our side looking at it as one apiece coming into today. Leinster finals are there to be won. Nothing more, nothing less.
“The goals were crucial, they were fortuitous as well. Kieran’s had a couple of opportunities as well, we just managed to keep them out. On another day they could have easily gone in. We got the rub of the green and we are thrilled.”
Scorers for Kilkenny CBS: J Byrne (2-1); A Gaffney (0-7, 0-4 frees, 0-2 ’65’s); JP Treacy, R Murphy (0-2 each); L Scanlon (0-1).
Scorers for St Kiernan’s: R Donnelly (0-7, 0-5 frees, 0-1 ’65); B Cody (0-3); B Ryan, L Blanchfield, J Ryan (0-1 each).
KILKENNY CBS: D Holohan; K Galvin, C McGrath, C Doheny; G Bryan, E Cody, P Deegan; N Mullins, JP Treacy; H Lawlor, L Scanlon, A Gaffney; R Buckley, J Byrne, R Murphy.
Subs: D Bolger for Cody (52 mins); M McWey for Murphy (57 mins).
ST KIERAN’S COLLEGE: J Barcoe; T Walsh, E Walsh, J Cleere; D Mullen, J Maher, J Keoghan; K Blanchfield, J Byrne; D O’Connor, N Walsh, B Cody; B Ryan, L Blanchfield, R Donnelly.
Subs: M Cody for Keoghan (HT); J Haines for Morrissey (HT); P White for E Walsh (42 mins), R Lahart for Ryan (43 mins); T O’Dwyer for O’Connor (56 mins).
Referee: J McGrath (Westmeath).