St. Kieran’s College, Kilkenny 1-15 Presentation College, Athenry 1-12
St. Kieran’s College continue to reign over the schools’ hurling kingdom after a late goal from Conor Kelly and eight points from the stick of Eoin Cody helped them to retain their Croke Cup crown at the expense of Presentation College of Athenry this afternoon in Tullamore.
This meeting was a rematch of last year’s final and it looked as if Presentation might be set to even the score and win their first ever senior “A” crown when Mark Kennedy fired them into the lead nine minutes after half time.
In a contest that never really caught fire, the Galway students hurled into the diagonal breeze in the first half and would have been the happier side to get to the interval level at 0-7 apiece. It took 23 minutes for anyone other than Eoin Cody to score for the Kilkenny school, Martin O’Connell firing over after he snapped up a loose ball at midfield and drove forward at the Presentation defence, while some uncharacteristically errant shooting from the winning school also kept the game tight.
Just two of the first eight attempts at scores from St. Kieran’s hit the target, with five shots going wide while another daisy cutter shot from Eoin Cody crashed back out into play after hitting the foot of the Presentation College goalpost.
Mark Kennedy was in sensational form for the Galway side to ensure they kept pace, while a great score out of traffic from TJ Brennan tied up the game before half time.
Cody pushed St. Kieran’s three points clear after the break, but the momentum shifted back towards Presentation College when Brandon Lee showed a great turn of pace to set up Kennedy for a goal after 39 minutes. Kennedy and Brennan added two more wonderful points to leave Presentation two up with 15 minutes to play, and everything was in place for the Galway side to push on and make history.
Instead however they retreated into a very defensive stance, inviting St. Kieran’s onto the front foot. The Kilkenny side took over at midfield and started to exert much more pressure on the Athenry defence, and that bore fruit when a long ball wasn’t cleared and was instead kicked to the net by Conor Kelly on 54 minutes, after bobbling around the Athenry square for what seemed like an age.
From then on, there was only ever going to be one winner. Killian Egan (2) and David Blanchfield fired over some superb scores to complete the scoring for the winners and while a chink of light opened up for Presentation College when Darragh Corcoran got a second yellow card and Kennedy pointed the resultant free to cut the lead to a goal, they got no opportunity to shoot for the second goal they badly needed.
So their wait for a first ever title goes on, while St. Kieran’s have now made it 23 and counting, five in the last six years.
Scorers for St. Kieran’s: E Cody 0-8 (0-6f), C Kelly 1-0, D Blanchfield & K Egan 0-2 each, M O’Connell, C Brennan & A Brennan 0-1 each.
Scorers for Presentation College: M Kennedy 1-8 (0-5f), TJ Brennan 0-2, G Lee & A Clarke 0-1 each.
St. Kieran’s: D Mason; D O'Keeffe, P O'Neill, J Young; D Corcoran, C Murphy, K Egan; David Blanchfield, M O'Connell; C Brennan, E Cody, A Brennan; C Kenny, C Hoban, Darragh Maher.
Subs used: C Kelly for Hoban (48), D Fwamba for O’Connell (52), J Brennan for Murphy (59).
Presentation College: P Rabbitte; C Brennan, E Lawless, J Reilly; O Salmon, S Quirke, D Parr; I McGlynn, B Lee; S Burke, M Kennedy, TJ Brennan; A Brett, A Clarke, G Lee.
Subs used: J Joyce for Lee (55), L Leen for Lee (57).
Referee: J Murphy (Limerick)