Clifford goal ends hopes of Portumna revival
Kilkenny CBS 3-15Portumna CS 1-8
KILKENNY CBS scored a flattering 13-point victory over Portumna Community School at the Ragg to set up a Croke Cup final showdown with Nenagh CBS.
Beaten Leinster finalists this year, Kilkenny have responded well to their narrow provincial loss against neighbours and close rivals St Kieran's and now find themselves just 60 minutes away from a second All-Ireland success.
Kilkenny have won the Croke Cup just once before, in 1981, and were runners-up in 2007, 1983 and 1970.
But they will start as favourites against Nenagh on Saturday, March 31, on the back of an ultimately convincing win against a Portumna side that finished with 14 players after corner-back Sean Neylon was dismissed for a second bookable offence in stoppage-time.
Mentor Seamus Dwyer reflected: "They've done it themselves. There's no bother getting up for an All-Ireland quarter-final and semi-final. It wasn't too hard at all."
Kilkenny led by 1-7 to 1-2 at half-time and were never unduly troubled in ideal conditions.
But they needed a fortuitous Mason Clifford goal with five minutes remaining to kill off a Portumna revival that had cut a nine-point deficit in the second half back to five.
Scorers -- Kilkenny CBS: C Doyle 0-9 (7f), K Kenny 2-1, M Clifford 1-1, D Sheehan, P Campion, D Bolger, P Delahunty 0-1 each. Portumna CS: P Killeen 1-3 (1-0 pen, 0-1f), J Starr, R O'Meara (1f) 0-2 each, D Daly 0-1.
KILKENNY CBS -- D Holohan; S Cassin, E Cody, C McGrath; N Mullins, O McGrath, R Fitzpatrick; D Sheehan, J Langton; K Kenny, M Clifford, E Fennelly; S Cuddihy, C Doyle, P Campion.
Subs: D Bolger for Cuddihy (42), P Delahunty for Campion (44), R Buckley for Fennelly (53), L Scanlon for Clifford (57), JP Treacy for Sheehan (58).
PORTUMNA CS -- M Fahy; S Neylon, P Muldoon, S Tuohy; C Kelly, P Killeen, O Royston; J Starr, C Barry; D Daly, O Treacy, C Burke; N Maloney, A Hogan, R O'Meara. Subs: J Downey for Hogan (25), L Fahy for Maloney (38).
Ref -- F Horgan (Tipperary).