Hogan praises Kieran's heroes as they regroup to take crown
St Kieran's Kilkenny 5-19 Pres College Athenry 3-17
St Kieran’s College are back at the top of the Croke Cup tree, but not before withstanding some nervous moments against Athenry’s Presentation College on Saturday night after giving up a 10-point lead in regulation time.
“We were staring defeat in the face,” admitted St Kieran’s manager Tom Hogan afterwards, as his players celebrated a 22nd title at this level on the Semple Stadium turf.
The Kilkenny kingpins had led by 3-10 to 0-9 midway through the second-half, but in the closing minutes Adam Brett scrambled home a goal for Presentation College, before Mark Kennedy found the net 60 seconds later.
Four minutes into injury-time Adam Brett got his second and the teams were level at the whistle.
Indeed, TJ Brennan had Athenry ahead for the only time in the match a minute into extra-time, but St Kieran’s found their rhythm and the crucial score came when Jamie Young whipped a first-time ground shot into the roof of the net in the first period.
They were able to coast home with a succession of points and a late Ciarán Brennan goal.
“That goal was a great confidence-booster,” the victorious manager said of Young’s effort.
“That was the real cushion we needed. It’s a great honour for them to go out with an All-Ireland medal in the pocket.”
The tone was set in the second quarter of the game when St Kieran’s went from being level at 0-6 apiece to stretching into a 10-point lead by the break, three quick goals coming from Daithí Barron, the electric Ciarán Brennan and David O’Carroll.
They looked to be heading for an easy victory before those interventions late on, but credit must go to St Kieran’s for lifting themselves off the ground again and closing out the win.
“It took everything for us to get back level, but they were very good and just finished the game stronger,” Presentation manager Michael Finn said. “They are a top quality outfit and the standard in this is extraordinarily high.”
Scorers – St Kieran’s: C Brennan 2-1, A Mullen 0-7 (2f), C Kelly 0-7 (1f, 1 ‘65’), D Barron 1-2, D O’Carroll 1-0, J Young 1-0, E O’Shea, I Walsh 0-1 each
Athenry: M Kennedy 1-9 (6f, 2 ‘65’), A Brett 2-1, TJ Brennan 0-3, C Lawless, E Caulfield, C Walsh, I McGlynn (f) 0-1 each
St Kieran’s College – D Mason, T Ronan, C Murphy, M Nolan, D Phelan, J Roberts, L Murphy, K Egan, A Mullen, E Moylan, E O’Shea, D Barron, C Kelly, C Brennan, D O’Carroll. Subs: G Murphy for C Kelly (35m), Ian Walsh for E Moylan (46m), J Young for E O’Shea (48m), E Cody for D Barron (52m).
Presentation College – P Rabbitte, A Clarke, C Lee, E Lawless, K Conneely, C Walsh, TJ Brennan, S Quirke, J Reilly, E O’Donnell, A Brett, B Connolly, M Kennedy, C Lawless, E Caulfield. Subs: I McGlynn for J Reilly (47m), B Concannon for B Connolly (59m), D Parr for E Caulfield (59m), D Coleman for C Walsh (76m).
Ref – Fergal Horgan (Tipperary)