Courageous St Kieran's College youngsters stand tall when it matters most 6 months ago

Courageous St Kieran's College youngsters stand tall when it matters most

St Kieran's College 1-15 Pres Athenry 1-12

When they were really needed, the boys of St Kieran's College stood tall.

Half back Killian Egan stepped up with two rakers, midfielder David Blanchfield hit two of his own from the sideline and with that the boys of Kieran's College quietly took over the game and drove their way towards a 23rd Croke Cup title.

For much of this O'Connor Park finale, they were up against it.

Mark Kennedy was causing havoc inside for Athenry and his second half goal would have broken a lesser team, but these Kieran's men are made of stern stuff.

And somewhere from deep within, they found enough to get themselves over the line.

Despite the perfect conditions, the game took a while to really catch fire with both sides showing signs of early nerves.  Through a barrage of rucks and scraps in the first few minutes though, one player was on song and that was Pres Athenry's Mark Kennedy.

The jinky little corner forward from Clarinbridge blasted over a beauty to give his side an early lead and that seemed to settle things down a bit.

Eoin Cody responded with a sharply taken effort for the boys in black and white after some trojan work from the skilful Aaron Brennan - a nephew of Kilkenny legend Eddie's.

The game was still a bit stop-start though, and the first half turned into a shootout between the free-takers Cody and Kennedy. Cody missed one and Kennedy was unerring as the sides went into the interval tied at seven apiece.

Ciaran Brennan, Aaron Brennan and Cian Kenny were all threatening for Kieran's, without really catching fire and getting these talented forwards into the game will have made up the bulk of Tom Hogan's half-time chat.

And little by little, they took over this game after the resumption.

Half forward Ciaran Brennan thundered into it - one of the smaller men on the pitch - the Bennetsbridge player must have caught at least four puckouts.

Just look at his expert timing and judgement in the air here from the TG4 stream.

In the backs Darragh Corcoran, Conor Murphy and Padraic O'Neill all won their battles as the men of Kilkenny took over. But then came a lifeline for Athenry and a potentially killer blow for Kieran's.

Midfielder Ian McGlynn showed blistering pace to leave the Kieran's lads for dead before setting up Kennedy who made no mistake.

from TG4 Youtube stream.

But then with their necks on the line, sub Conor Kelly kicked home a scrappy goal before Egan and Blanchfield had the final say.

A 23rd Croke Cup for St Kieran's College, they've won five of the last six titles. What a school.

St Kieran's College

1 Dean Mason (Ballyhale Shamrocks)

2 Darragh O'Keeffe (Dunamaggin)
3 Pádraic O'Neill (Young Ireland's, Gowran)
4 Jamie Young (O'Loughlin Gaels)

5 Darragh Corcoran (Ballyhale Shamrocks)
6 Conor Murphy (Bennettsbridge)
7 Killian Egan (Graigue Ballycallan, 0-2)

8 Martin O'Connell (Clara, 0-1)
9 David Blanchfield (Bennettsbridge, 0-2)

18 Darragh Maher (St Lachtains, Freshford)
11 Eoin Cody (Ballyhale Shamrocks, 0-9, 0-7f)
12 Aaron Brennan (Graigue Ballycallan, 0-1)

13 Ciaran Brennan (Bennettsbridge, 0-1)
14 Conor Hoban Dunamaggin)
15 Cian Kenny (James Stephens)

Subs: Conor Kelly (1-0) for Conor Hoban (45), Dacel Fwamba for Martin O'Connell (51,) Jack Brennan for Conor Murphy (59)

Presentation College Athenry

1 Patrick Rabbitte (Athenry)

2 Christy Brennan (Clarinbridge)
3 Eoin Lawless (Athenry)
4 Jason Reilly (Turloughmore)

5 Oisin Salmon (Clarinbridge)
6 Shane Quirke (Athenry)
7 Donal Parr (Athenry)

8 Ian McGlynn (Kilconieron)
9 Brandon Lee (Athenry)

10 Sean Burke (Kilconieron)
11 Gavin Lee (Clarinbridge, 0-1)
12 TJ Brennan (Clarinbridge, 0-2)

13 Mark Kennedy (Clarinbridge (1-8, 0-5f)
14 Adam Clarke (Craughwell, 0-1)
15 Adam Brett (Killimordaly)

Subs: Jason Joyce for Brandon Lee (55)