Blanchfield shines as Kieran's break Pres hearts
St Kieran's College 1-15 Pres College Athenry 1-12
For 40 minutes of Saturday's Croke Cup final at Bord na Móna O'Connor Park, Presentation College of Athenry looked on course to make history and win a maiden All-Ireland senior 'A' hurling crown.
But St Kieran's College were chasing their 23rd title, and their fifth in six years, and the weight of tradition came to bear in the closing stages.
The Kilkenny school showed great composure and resilience to eke out victory.
"The goal was scrappy enough but we don't care how the ball goes over the line" said overjoyed St Kieran's manager Tom Hogan.
Playing with the wind in the first half, Kieran's missed six of their first eight chances, including a shot for goal from Eoin Cody that crashed out off the post.
At 0-7 each at half time and with Mark Kennedy running riot up front, Pres were in good shape - doubly so when Kennedy fired in their goal after 39 minutes.
"It wasn't looking good really" said Hogan. "We said at half-time, lads you either fight or you lie down and die".
Martin O'Connell and David Blanchfield began to take over at midfield, Dan Coonan and Conor Murphy took control of the half back line, and the pressure mounted.
A long ball into the Presentation square on 54 minutes wasn't cleared, sub Conor Kelly kicked it to the net and St Kieran's smelled blood. Killian Egan (twice) and Blanchfield pinged over long-range points, and Presentation College had no answer.
Scorers - St Kieran's: E Cody 0-8 (6f), C Kelly 1-0, D Blanchfield, K Egan 0-2 each, M O'Connell, C Brennan, A Brennan 0-1 each. Presentation College: M Kennedy 1-8 (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: 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: J Joyce for Lee (55), L Leen for Lee (57).
Ref - J Murphy (Limerick)