Kilkenny CBS gunning to avenge St Kieran's defeat
There is something very familiar about the Leinster Colleges SHC final at Nowlan Park tomorrow (2.30).
St Kieran's College are back in the decider, as defending champions. They are chasing four-in-a-row and a 53rd title to keep them well ahead of the field.
Kilkenny CBS are also back, having lost to Kieran's 12 months ago, but they are chasing a league/ championship double. Their provincial championship title haul stands at six currently.
Last year CBS out-played their famous Kilkenny city rivals but lost the match. Kieran's failed to make the All-Ireland final subsequently, but CBS got there, played well, but still ended up being beaten by Nenagh CBS, who took their first title.
The Kilkenny CBS camp reckon they have a crop of players at the moment who have no fear of their dominant opponents.
"It is a great game to be looking forward to," said CBS selector Ger Morrissey. "There is a wonderful rivalry between the schools, and there is rarely much between us."
Kieran's have already seen off Kilkenny opposition. They beat Castlecomer CS in the semi-final (1-8 to 0-6), when late points from captain Eoin Gough and James Maher edged them through. A wides tally of 14 suggested they could create, but the finishing touch was dull that afternoon.
They have a strong spine to their team, with centre-back James Maher a real powerhouse. Midfielders Chris Bolger and Liam Blanchfield are fair performers, while Gough, James Tyrrell and Simon Rafter have the ability to be game changers.
CBS showed improvement in the semi-final win over Good Counsel (New Ross) compared to their opening match against Colaiste Eoin.
Physically they might find it difficult this time, although they have talent in captain Robbie Fitzpatrick – who figured in the county senior final with his club Dicksboro last season – and Evan Cody at full-back.
Paddy Deegan, JP Treacy, Paddy Cahill and Niall Mullins are others who are capable of turning it on for CBS.
Tradition points to another win for St Kieran's, although seven CBS survivors from last season might just find inspiration from the hurt of last year's final to complete what would be a magical double.
Both sides go through to the All-Ireland series, with the winners into the semi-finals and the losers in the quarter-finals.