The Kilkenny kingpins claimed a nine-point victory over beaten Harty Cup finalists Our Lady’s Templemore to set up a meeting with Ardscoil Rís in the All-Ireland Post Primary Senior Hurling Championship showpiece.
St Kieran’s will aim for three-in-a-row and mentor Liam Smith hailed the resilience of his young charges. He said: “That was a tough game, but we knew that coming here. Templemore are a side with a lot of passion, they’re quality hurlers but I’m so proud of our lads. They dug it out, got scores when we needed and kept working, which got us to the final.”
Nine points was the margin at full-time but Templemore, on three occasions, were within two of the Leinster champions in the second- half. St Kieran’s Adrian Mullen also saw a penalty saved but the goal they sought arrived with eight minutes left, as Cuddihy finished off a superb offload from Seán Carey, son of Kilkenny legend DJ.
At the break, St Kieran’s were 1-9 to 0-8 clear as Templemore managed just one point from play. St Kieran’s had the ideal start, leading 1-1 to 0-0 within two minutes as towering centre- forward Prendiville scored the early goal.
But they needed Cuddihy’s goal down the home straight, with Templemore claiming they should have been awarded a free around midfield before St Kieran’s broke. Templemore selector Noel Fogarty reflected: “It might sound like sour grapes but that was a crucial decision that went against us. They went straight up from that and got the goal. But it just shows how clinical Kilkenny teams are when they get on top at all – they really put you away.”
A Mullen 0-7 (6f), C Prendiville 1-3, J Cuddihy 1-1, M Cody, E Delaney, J Connolly, S Carey & E Moylan 0-1 each.
B McGrath 0-5 (3f, 1 65), J Bergin 0-3f, J Kelly 0-2, D O’Shea, S Nolan & L Fairbrother 0-1 each.
D Phelan; C Byrne, T Walsh, E Carroll; M Cody, D Mullen, M Kenny; M Keoghan, E Delaney; J Connolly, C Prendiville, A Mullen; S Carey, J Cuddihy, E Moylan.
V Costello for E Delaney (60), N Delaney for Byrne (60).
J Kennedy; E Ryan, D Ryan, C O’Meara; P Cadell, K Hassett, T Murphy; B McGrath, N Quinlan; S Nolan, L Fairbrother, R McCormack; J Bergin, J Kelly, D O’Shea.
A O’Meara for O’Shea (54), P Bergin for J Bergin (54).
J Keane (Galway).