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Terrific Twentieth Title for St.Kieran's

posted 6 Apr 2015, 07:28 by Post Primary   [ updated 6 Apr 2015, 07:28 ]
CPC Ballycastle Bounce Back

THEY are the greatest school that the Croke Cup has ever seen and at Thurles last Saturday St Kieran's collected a very special Masita GAA Post Primary Schools All Ireland SH 'A' title.
 Everyone knew they would be hard to beat and such was the case as they claimed their 20th crown. In the end they had to dig in - they prevailed by three but that lead was down to one at a stage in the second half and we were left to wonder if the home side could pull off a shock.
Thurles tried - and they tried hard - but it was not meant to be. Instead the 'Terrific Twenty' was achieved and Kilkenny's domination of the hurling landscape continues apace. Several veterans and legends of the game may have retired from Brian Cody's senior team this last year but there is serious talent emerging.
 After savouring the win, St Kieran's manager Liam Smith referred to the school's wall of fame and said the current bunch would proudly take their place there now. 
 "We are absolutely delighted. In St Kieran’s you’re judged by what’s up on the board and some of the boys are up there again," he said. "Some of these lads have two medals and it’s unreal. Any time I mention the wall the boys look at me and say, sir, you used to have hair back then!
 Everyone that comes in looks at that wall and the lads are up on it again.”
Smith's men were well decorated as it was, both with their clubs and the Kilkenny minor squad. Perhaps it was that confidence that propelled them into such a great start - they led by three points early on until Thurles hit back with a Michael Connors a 14th-minute goal.
St Kieran’s didn't wait long to hit back. Before the game a lot of eyes were on vice captain Liam Blanchfield who had been in tremendous scoring form and while the Thurles guys were looking after him Ray Lahart snuck in for a great goal to make a swift reply. Lahart finished with 1-5 in a top class display. 

 It left them 1-10 to 1-7 clear at the break and the majority of 3,642 spectators felt the holders were on their way. 
 But Thurles came out with all guns blazing and points from Jack Skehan and Niall Heffernan reduced the deficit. 
 "We showed great character to hit four unanswered points," Smith said. "And at that stage it drove us on. We missed a few more chances but thankfully we got over the line."
 Indeed they missed six shots on goal and Kieran's, inspired by Bennettsbridge man Seán Morrissey who played with a broken finger, hit his team's last point. Thurles were left in despair after a gallant effort came up just short. 
 Kieran's deserved this - they had been given a brief scare against Presentation College Athenry in the semi-final but came good late on again. Morrissey and Blanchfield were leaders throughout - both already had medals in their pocket this season after starring for Bennettsbridge in the All-Ireland Junior Club Hurling Final. What a season this is turning out to be for them.
 This game was a serious advertisement for schools hurling, and once again the famed Kilkenny academy end up top of the pile. In time they will look back at a superb first half where, despite conceding an  early goal, they led by three points at the interval.
After establishing that foothold the black and white hoops were not to be denied.
Meanwhile, as many people expected, Cross and Passion, Ballycastle, losing finalists last year, came good this time around when they landed the Masita GAA All-Ireland Post Primary Schools Paddy Buggy Cup. The Antrim team can thank Shane McGrath who hit 1-2 in the second half to topple Mountrath CS. It was an absolutely cracking game with the teams level on eight occasions.
 McGrath’s 55th minute goal was the turning point. Mountrath never gave up, however, and Dylan Conroy scored a consolation goal in the final minute.
They had another goal disallowed in stoppage time for a square ball but they largely depended on twin brothers Stephen and Aaron Dunphy who scored six of their points in the first half.

 The Antrim lads, spurred on by the  devastating loss of last year, were totally deserving winners.
"We are in the heart of North Antrim and we have been the most successful school in the area winning numerous 'A' colleges titles at all levels in Ulster – Thompson, McNamee, Gallagher and Forresters Cups," says Joe Cassidy of the college. "We have been a real hurling nursery to Antrim over the years supplying many greats such as all- stars Paul McKillen and OlcanMcFetridge and hopefully now this will continue."