St Kieran's are chasing a fourth consecutive Croke Cup.
It goes without saying that the challenge posed by St Kieran’s College in next Saturday’s Masita All-Ireland Post-Primary Schools Senior A Hurling Championship (Croke Cup) final at Semple Stadium, Thurles is significant (throw-in 4pm).
St Kieran’s College have won the Croke Cup twenty-one times, five times since 2010 and are chasing an historic four in-a-row of All-Ireland colleges titles - the four in-a-row has been accomplished previously by St Flannan’s (1944-47) while St Kieran’s came close to achieving the feat in 1991.
Now Our Lady's Templemore stand between St Kieran's and hurling history.
St Kieran’s won the Croke Cup in three successive years previously (1988-90), but were beaten by St Flannan’s Ennis in the 1991 decider (1-9 to 1-15).
Since 2010 St Kieran’s College have beaten Árdscoil Rís three times in the final (2010, 2011 & 2016), Kilkenny CBS (2014) and, of course, Thurles CBS in 2015 (1-15 to 1-12). And, this year St Kieran’s are on-course to win a 22nd title. St Kieran’s claimed a 55th Leinster Colleges crown thanks to a 1-14 to 0-13 over Kilkenny CBS before beating St Brigid’s Loughrea 3-19 to 1-9 at the All-Ireland semi-final stage. St Brigid’s actually started that semi-final brightly, but once St Kieran’s got into their rhythm the Kilkenny side hit 1-9 without reply during a dominant seventeen-minute spell and led 1-13 to 0-3 at the break.
There are only two survivors from the 2016 Croke Cup winning St Kieran’s team on the current side - Ballyhale Shamrocks’ Adrian Mullen is a lethal forward (scored 2-9 against St Brigid’s) and Tullaroan’s Martin Keoghan represents the driving force of the side from centre-back. Keen observers of hurling will also be interested to learn that DJ Carey’s son Michael lines out at full-back on the St Kieran’s team while Adrian Ronan’s son Tommy is expected to start at corner-back.
Liam Smith managed St Kieran’s to a three-in-a-row of All-Ireland titles (2014-16) before stepping down; Tom Hogan is manager of the St Kieran’s side this season.
Our Lady’s Templemore - the Dr Harty Cup champions. Photo: Eamonn McGee
TIPPERARY & THE CROKE CUP
Tipperary schools have won the Croke Cup just three times. In 1978 Templemore CBS claimed the coveted title when beating St Peter’s College, Wexford 2-11 to 1-4.
Then, in 2009, Thurles CBS beat Good Counsel, Wexford 1-17 to 1-15. Michael O’Brien scored 1-5 from play in that decider while the Thurles team also featured Kieran Morris, Denis Maher, John Meagher, David Butler, John O’Neill, Aidan McCormack, James Barry, Pat Ralph and Pádraig Greene.
In 2012, and despite not winning the Dr Harty Cup, Nenagh CBS stormed through the back door before beating Kilkenny CBS 3-10 to 2-11 in the final (en route to Croke Cup Nenagh CBS beat St Kieran’s College at the semi-final stage). The Nenagh CBS team featured Jason Forde, Steven O’Brien and Tadhg Gallagher.
Saturday, March 25th
Masita All-Ireland Post-Primary Schools Senior A
Hurling Championship (Croke Cup) Final
Our Lady's Templemore v St Kieran's College
in Semple Stadium, Thurles @ 4pm
*This game will be preceded by the All-Ireland B colleges
hurling final between St John the Baptist, Hospital
and St Mary's CGBS Belfast (throw-in 2pm).