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6 players to watch from St Kieran’s and Árdscoil Rís in the Croke Cup final

St Kieran’s are chasing their 21st title and three in a row, with Árdscoil Rís searching for a maiden crown.

Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

WILL IT BE a 21st crown for St Kieran’s of Kilkenny, and the three-in-a-row, or a very first title for Limerick city based opponents Ardscoil Rís?

All will be revealed at Semple Stadium tomorrow, when the two schools battle it out for Masita All-Ireland Post Primary Schools senior A hurling glory.

Here, we run the rule over six players likely to have a key influence on proceedings in Thurles.

1. Peter Casey (Ardscoil Rís)

Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Joint-captain Peter Casey could cap a remarkable calendar year by collecting a Croke Cup medal with Ardscoil Rís.

A member of the Limerick team that captured Bord Gáis Energy Munster and All-Ireland U21 honours last year, the brilliant forward added county and Munster senior club titles with Na Piarsaigh in 2015.

Recently, Casey won a Harty Cup medal with Ardscoil Rís before following up with AIB All-Ireland senior club glory in the colours of Na Piarsaigh at Croke Park.

A Croke Cup medal would make it a season that would be difficult to surpass with Casey, even though he has years ahead of him with club and county.

2. Colum Prendiville (St Kieran’s)

Colum Prendiville is a former Ireland basketball international at underage level who is showing that the skills of that game are certainly transferrable to hurling.

His height marks him out as an obvious attacking fulcrum for St Kieran’s and after deciding to devote more time to hurling this year, the school has benefited.

Prendiville, blessed with great hands, operates around the half-forward line for St Kieran’s and has a keen eye for a score too.

The Graigue-Ballycallan player bagged 1-3 for St Kieran’s in their Croke Cup semi-final victory over Our Lady’s Templemore, and was also hauled down for a penalty.

3. Brian Ryan (Ardscoil Rís)

Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Brian Ryan is the man making Ardscoil Rís tick from the middle of the field.

As they battled against the elements in the first half of the Harty Cup final victory over Our Lady’s Templemore, Ryan was one of the key players as the winners hung on grimly before asserting their dominance after half-time.

Ryan was a panel member in 2014 when Limerick captured the Munster minor hurling title and he was a starter on last year’s team.

The South Liberties player has also been named on the county minor hurling panel for the 2016 campaign.

4. Tommy Walsh (St Kieran’s)

Source: Tommy Greally/INPHO

Full-back on the last two Croke Cup winning teams, and full-back again this year, Tullaroan’s Tommy Walsh (no relation) is a real star in the making.

He was absolutely superb against Our Lady’s Templemore in the Croke Cup semi-final and even when Brian McGrath went in full-forward for Our Lady’s in the second half, Walsh coped comfortably.

Walsh was an All-Ireland minor medallist with Kilkenny in 2014 and he also anchored the edge of the square for the county team last year.

Hurling fans may get to know a lot more about another Tommy Walsh, and from the same fabled club, in the coming years.

5. Nathan Fox (Ardscoil Rís)

With Peter Casey providing leadership and joint-captaincy in attack, Nathan Fox offers similar qualities in defence.

The Parteen player will anchor the centre back position for Ardscoil Rís and he has been a tower of strength en route to Harty Cup glory and a Croke Cup final.

Fox was captain of the Clare minor hurlers in 2015 and when Ardscoil Rís defeated Presentation College Athenry in a classic Croke Cup semi-final, Fox was joined in the starting line-up by fellow Banner boys Sean Phelan, Paraic O’Loughlin and David Fitzgerald.

The presence of Clare players in the Ardscoil team is in keeping with recent tradition, as a host of current top stars representing the Clare and Limerick senior teams are former pupils there.

6. Adrian Mullen (St Kieran’s)

The Kierans team celebrate at the final whistle St Kieran's celebrate last year's Croke Cup final win. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Mullen was captain of the St Kieran’s team that won the All-Ireland Post Primary Schools junior hurling title last December and he’s now aiming for another Croke Cup crown.

Goalkeeper on last year’s successful team, Mullen has proven himself as a prolific forward in this campaign.

Mullen, who’s joined on the starting team by his brother Darren (man of the match in the 2014 Croke Cup final), bagged 1-9 in the Leinster final victory over local rivals Kilkenny CBS.

Also the team’s main freetaker, Mullen then added seven points (including six placed balls) in the Croke Cup semi-final victory over Our Lady’s Templemore, while also having a penalty saved.  

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