St Kieran’s make it three Croke Cups in a row
The Kilkenny club maintained their grip over the competition by beating Ardscoil Rís
St. Kieran’s College’s Tom Witty celebrates with the Croke Cup trophy after it was damaged in the celebrations. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Ardscoil Rís (Limerick) 1-13 St Kieran’s (Kilkenny) 1-15
Competition specialists St Kieran’s made it three Croke Cup titles in a row in Thurles on Monday, running out two-point winners over Harty Cup champions Ardscoil Rís.
A 21st Masita All-Ireland Post Primary Schools senior A hurling title was secured in front of 3,328 spectators at Semple Stadium, with man of the match Joe Cuddihy claiming 1-3 for the winners.
For Ardscoil Rís, it was final heartbreak once again at the hands of St Kieran’s, who were also their conquerors in 2010 and 2011.
But St Kieran’s were merited winners as Cuddihy and lethal forward Adrian Mullen, goalkeeper on last year’s winning team, combined for 1-8 of their total.
Cuddihy’s 22nd minute goal was crucial and he also scored three points in a row at a critical stage in the second half.
St Kieran’s led by 1-8 to 0-7 at half-time but Ardscoil Rís were right back in contention within a minute of the restart when Páraic O’Loughlin scrambled home a goal from close range.
But in that second half, Ardscoil Rís could never draw level, although the sides were deadlocked five times in the first half.
After Cuddihy’s goal, St Kieran’s led from there all the way to the finish to land the coveted silverware once again.
Despite being pegged back to one point when O’Loughlin goaled, St Kieran’s were five clear midway through the second half, with Colum Prendiville pointing before Cuddihy hit a hat-trick of points to establish a 1-12 to 1-7 advantage.
After Conor Boylan and Edward Moylan traded scores, Ardscoil hit three unanswered points of their own to move within two points of the holders with eight minutes left.
Mullen picked off a crucial point with seven minutes remaining and while a pair of Paul O’Brien frees had Ardscoil just a point down in stoppage time, Joe Connolly boomed over the insurance score from distance to ensure this was another glory, glory day for St Kieran’s.
Winning manager Liam Smith reflected: “That was a cracking game of hurling between two brilliant teams. We knew we had a great chance coming up here.”
And as they invariably do, St Kieran’s delivered again.
ARDSCOIL RÍS: S Mullane; S Hogan, S Phelan, R Connolly; C Houlihan, J Boylan, N Fox; B Ryan (0-1), J Flynn; P O’Loughlin (1-2), P Casey, D Carroll; C Boylan (0-2), P O’Brien (0-7f), D Fitzgerald. Subs: R Duff for Fitzgerald (38), J Delahunty for Fox (48), D Cunningham (0-1) for Carroll (49), C Moriarty for Duff (55).
ST KIERAN’S: D Phelan; C Byrne, T Walsh, E Carroll; M Kenny, D Mullen, M Cody; M Keoghan (0-1), E Delaney (0-2); A Mullen (0-5, 3f), C Prendiville (0-1), J Connolly (0-2); S Carey, J Cuddihy (1-3), E Moylan (0-1). Subs: A Nolan for Kenny (40), G Brennan for Carey (59), N Delaney for Byrne (60+1).
Referee: D Kirwan (Cork).