Kenny finds extra gear to book spot in decider
Kilkenny CBS finished with a flourish to win a bruising All-Ireland Schools Senior Hurling 'A' semi-final in Banagher.
Underdogs Mercy Colleges from Galway had contributed to a high-octane clash, but in the closing stages the Leinster standard bearers pulled clear.
That was chiefly because Kevin Kenny, who had been thwarted by Mercy Colleges' centre-back Shane Caufield initially, suddenly showed his class, with a splendid late flourish, to render all of Mercy Colleges' early work insufficient.
Having edged 0-9 to 0-8 in front, Kilkenny pounced for the crucial goal in the 50th minute when Shane Cuddihy's nifty handpass released Kenny, who rattled the Mercy net, leaving the Galway youngsters unable to recover.
Inspired by the impressive Jason Flynn, Mercy Colleges had shaded the first half and were 0-7 to 0-4 ahead at the break.
Flynn struck four points, while Kevin McHugo and Eoin Morrissey also contributed scores as Mercy Colleges' had the favourites in a bit of bother.
After the restart, Kilkenny CBS, though, were more efficient when backed by the wind and Mercy Colleges were suddenly under pressure.
Midfielder Niall Mullins nailed two sweet efforts from play as the teams were deadlocked by the three-quarter mark.
Then Kenny emerged as the key performer, clipping a point to nudge Kilkenny CBS in front followed quickly by that all-important goal, which booked their All-Ireland final place.
Scorers – Kilkenny CBS: K Kenny 1-4, N Mullins, P Cahill 0-2 (1f), M McWey, L Scanlan, P Delahanty, G Kelly 0-1 each. Mercy Colleges: J Flynn 0-6 (3fs, 2 '65s'), K McHugo 0-2, E Morrissey, S Caufield ('65') 0-1 each.
Kilkenny CBS – D Holohan; C McGrath, E Cody, D Scott; C Cahill, R Fitzpatrick, P Deegan; N Mullins, L Scanlan; G Kelly, K Kenny, P Delahanty; M McWey, S Cuddihy, P Cahill. Sub: G Byran for C Cahill (58).
Mercy Colleges – C Tuohy; S Pierce, C Nevin, L Uniacke; C Kelly, S Caufield, P English; J Flynn, O Coyle; C Dillon, D Sweeney, E Morrissey; G Loughnane, M O'Brien, K McHugo. Sub: C Gardiner for Loughnane (49).
Ref – J McGrath (Westmeath)