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9 things to know about tomorrow's All-Ireland colleges hurling finals

Dungarvan Colleges, Kilkenny CBS, St Brigid’s (Loughrea) and St Fergal’s (Rathdowney) are all in action.

Dungarvan Colleges players celebrate after their Dr Harty Cup triumph.
Dungarvan Colleges players celebrate after their Dr Harty Cup triumph.
Image: INPHO/Cathal Noonan

THE PREMIER ALL-Ireland hurling second-level finals take place tomorrow in Semple Stadium.

The showpiece event is the colleges showdown between Dungarvan Colleges and Kilkenny CBS at 3.15pm.

While the curtain-raiser sees St Brigid’s (Loughrea) meet St Fergal’s (Rathdowney) at the same venue at 1.30pm.

Here’s 9 things to know about tomorrow’s double-header.

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1. Kilkenny CBS are bidding to bridge a 32-year gap since their last and only title at this level. Last year they suffered the agony of a final loss to Nenagh CBS by 3-10 to 2-11.

From the current team seven players - Darragh Holohan, Cathal McGrath, Evan Cody, Robbie Fitzpatrick, Niall Mullins,  Kevin Kenny and Shane Cuddihy – started in that game while Luke Scanlan and Paul Delahunty came on as substitutes.

2. Dungarvan Colleges are on their own mission of atonement. They were defeated by 2-12 to 1-12 by Kilkenny CBS in last year’s All-Ireland quarter-final. Current players Keelin Looby, Tadhg Burke, Tom Devine, Cormac Curran, Colin Dunford, Michael Harney and Ryan Donnelly all started in that game while Kevin Daly and Patrick Curran came on as substitutes.

“The minute we won the Harty Cup this year, it was put aside,” says coach Darragh Duggan. “The whole focus this year was on winning the All-Ireland semi-final. We had to do justice to last year’s team.”

3. The two teams in the colleges final will not be lacking in players with big game experience. Dungarvan Colleges duo Kevin Daly and Ryan Donnelly both lined out on the Dungarvan team that lost the Waterford SHC final last year to De La Salle.

While on the Kilkenny CBS side, Robbie Fitzpatrick and Kevin Kenny both featured for Dicksboro in last year’s Kilkenny county final against Ballyhale Shamrocks with Fitzpatrick marking Henry Shefflin for the finale of the game.

Robbie Fitzpatrick challenging Ballyhale Shamrocks Michael Fennelly.
Pic: INPHO/Cathal Noonan

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4. 15 year-old Darragh Lyons was the hat-trick hero for Dungarvan Colleges in their semi-final. The youngster from the Dungarvan club shot 3-1 as they defeated St Kieran’s (Kilkenny) in their 5-8 to 1-10 semi-final victory. While Kevin Kenny was the scoring hero for Kilkenny CBS when he struck 1-4 in their 1-12 to 0-10 semi-final win over Galway outfit Mercy Colleges.

5. Kilkenny CBS don’t lack well-known faces in their management team. Current Kilkenny senior hurler Matthew Ruth, a past pupil of the school, is now teaching in his alma mater and is a team selector.

“We had a good group of lads the last few years,” says Ruth. “Two All-Ireland final appearances in-a-row is testament to that. It’s a different culture, approach and attitude since I was there when St Kieran’s were totally dominant. I really enjoy it. A massive part of the teaching is the extra-curricular coaching. Maybe I’ve a vested interest because I went to the school and I’m passionate about the CBS.”

6. It’s certainly a busy time of year for Dungarvan Colleges, the combination outfit which draw their players from St Augustine’s and Dungarvan CBS. Last Saturday in Newbridge, St Augustine’s were crowned All-Ireland senior C football champions. While Dungarvan CBS face St Mary’s CBGS (Belfast) in the All-Ireland colleges senior B hurling final on Sunday April 14th.

7. Not many players featuring at schools level in April are chasing their second All-Ireland medal in the space of a month. But St Brigid’s midfielder Eanna Burke could become part of a rare group.

He celebrated an All-Ireland win with his club St Thomas on St Patrick’s Day, coming on as a substitute in that Croke Park clash. Eanna’s brother Darragh captained the school to win the All-Ireland title in 2011, a feat that their father John had previously achieved in 1982.

Eanna Burke in action for St Thomas.
Pic: INPHO/Cathal Noonan

8. St Brigid’s are chasing their third successive title at this grade. They were awarded the title last year after the abandonment of the semi-final tie between St Fergal’s and Nenagh VS. In 2011, St Brigid’s were 4-14 to 4-12 winners over Roscrea CC. From the current team Brian Molloy was the scoring star in that game as he notched 2-5 while Eanna Burke, Darragh O’Donoghue, and Darragh and Brian Dolan also featured.

9. There are only 300 students in St Fergal’s but they have a rich hurling tradition in their school. In Eoin Doyle, Robbie Phelan and Liam O’Connell they possess quality players while 10 of the current Laois senior squad now enjoying a revitalisation under the manager Cheddar Plunkett, went to the Rathdowney school. They last won the title in 2006.

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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