Liam Smith says present team among all-time greats

St Kieran’s manager Liam Smith says back-to-back Croke Cup wins has cemented his team’s place among the all-time greats produced by the Kilkenny nursery.

Liam Smith says present team among all-time greats

Saturday’s team featured eight members of the 2014 winning side, the fifth occasion a St Kieran’s outfit has successfully defended their All-Ireland crown.

“Last year was brilliant. Not many teams manage to successfully defend their title but we’ve done it,” gushed Smith.

“I don’t think we’ve been beaten all year. Thank God it didn’t happen on Saturday against a great Thurles side. They’re a great, great side and had us under pressure, had a couple of goal chances and if they got the rub of the green at times, they could be up there lifting that trophy. Fair play to them and the boys over them.

“We were (always in front), but conceded a sloppy goal. That upset us a little bit. We came back and Ray Lahart scored a cracking goal. We needed something there in the second-half and we missed nearly six points in a row at one stage. At this level you can’t do that. But we were lucky Seán Morrissey put that long ball over at the end.”

On securing title number 20, he added: “It has a lovely ring to it. In Kieran’s you’re judged by what’s up on the board and some of the boys are up there again. Some of them have two (All-Ireland medals) and it’s unreal. Any time I mention the wall the boys look at me and say, ‘sir, you used to have hair back then’. Everyone that comes in looks at that wall. Every hurler wants to get their picture up on that wall. They’re up on it again and they deserve to be. They’re a special, special bunch of lads.”

Thurles CBS boss Niall Cahill insisted failure to achieve parity at any stage during the second-half was their downfall. Thurles came within a point of St Kieran’s early upon the change of ends, but were unable to close the gap.

“It is heart-breaking after all the work we put in throughout the year. We knew St Kieran’s would be an outstanding unit and hard to break down, they are the toughest opposition we have come across this year.

“Fair play to them, they keep producing year after year and that is why they are top of the roll of honour with 20 titles. They keep at it, keep working and never give up,” said Cahill.

“We thought we were getting back into it near the end. It didn’t happen and we ran out of time. We were getting within two and three-points, but just couldn’t get over the line that way. It is tough.

“I am very proud of the lads. There was no expectation of them all year. They got to an All-Ireland final and that is progress. When you get there you always want to win it, but we couldn’t have asked for more.”

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