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Galway's Athenry stage incredible comeback to force extra-time, but St Kieran's regain Croke Cup

Presentation College Athenry came back from 12 points behind, but the Kilkenny kingpins eventually powered to their 22nd title.

St Kieran’s College 5-19

Presentation College Athenry 3-16

(after extra-time)

Kevin O’Brien reports from Semple Stadium

PRESENTATION COLLEGE ATHENRY pulled-off a brave fightback to force extra-time but they couldn’t prevent Kilkenny powerhouses St Kieran’s College from sealing their 22nd Croke Cup title in Thurles this evening.

St Kieran's Daith’ Barron lifts the trophy Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

Athenry found themselves 12 points behind early in the second-half but a 64th-minute goal from Adam Brett, his second of the game, capped off a remarkable comeback and sent the game to extra-time.

Athenry over-turned a 10-point interval deficit to defeat Kilkenny CBS in the semi-final, but St Kieran’s eventually secured victory in extra-time thanks to goals from Jamie Young and Ciaran Brennan.

It was a fourth All-Ireland in five years for the Kilkenny school, who are now eight clear of second-placed St Flannan’s of Ennis in the All-Ireland senior hurling roll of honour.

This was their fifth Croke Cup final in-a-row, with last year’s final defeat to Our Lady’s Templemore their only defeat in five appearances in the decider. Indeed 10 players from last year’s final defeat lined out again today.

Athenry were aiming to become the first Galway school to win the All-Ireland senior A hurling title since St Raphael’s in 1995, and that remains the county’s sole victory. Their last visit to the final, in 1976, also ended in defeat.

George Murphy and Patrick Rabbitte Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

Adrian Mullen, who played at full-forward on Kilkenny’s Leinster minor winning campaign of 2017, starred with seven points from midfield while O’Loughlin Gaels youngster Conor Kelly (0-7) and Bennettsbridge’s Ciaran Brennan (2-1) also impressed.

St Kieran’s led by 0-4 to 0-1 after the opening seven minutes, but Athenry moved a point in front by the 14th minute mainly due to the accuracy of Mark Kennedy’s free-taking.

Athenry were struggling to create scoring chances from open play, while at the far end St Kieran’s were cutting them open. They dispatched three goals between the 21st and 26th minute through Daithi Barron, Ciaran Brennan and David O’Carroll, to lead by 3-7 to 0-6 at half-time.

Adam Brett celebrates scoring in injury time Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

St Kieran’s pressed ahead into a 12-point lead by the 35th minute, but the Galway side bagged 3-5 over the next 25 minutes to send the game to extra-time. The three goals arrived after the 55th minute, with Brett popping up twice for close-range finishes while Kennedy dispatched the other.

St Kieran’s responded in extra-time with a flurry of scores from Mullen and Kelly, while Young and Brennan hit the pivotal goals to seal the win.

Scores for St Kieran’s College: Ciaran Brennan 2-1, Daithi Barron 1-2, Adrian Mullen 0-7 (0-1f), Conor Kelly 0-7 (0-2f), David O’Carroll and Jamie Young 1-0 each, Ian Walsh and Eoin O’Shea 0-1 each.

Scores for Presentation College Athenry: Mark Kennedy 1-8 (0-6f), Adam Brett 2-2, TJ Brennan 0-2, Eoin Caulfield, Brion Connolly (0-1f), Ian McGlynn (0-1f), Cillian Lawless 0-1 each.

St Kieran’s College

1. Dean Mason (Ballyhale Shamrocks)

2. Tommy Ronan (Graigue-Ballycallan)
3. Conor Murphy (Bennetsbridge)
4. Mark Nolan (Dicksboro)

5. Diarmuid Phelan (Danesfort)
6. Jesse Roberts (Graigue-Ballycallan)
7. Luke Murphy (James Stephens)

8. Killian Egan (Graigue-Ballycallan)
9. Adrian Mullen (Ballyhale Shamrocks)

10. Eoghan Moylan (Dicksboro)
11. Eoin O’Shea (O’Loughlin Gaels)
12. Daithi Barron (Thomastown)

13. Conor Kelly (O’Loughlin Gaels)
14. Ciaran Brennan (Bennettsbridge)
15. David O’Carroll (Lisdowney)

Subs

19. George Murphy (Rower-Inistioge) for O’Carroll (36)
18. Ian Walsh (Dunamaggin) for Moylan (46)
20. Jamie Young (O’Loughlin Gaels) for O’Shea (49)
17. Eoin Cody (Ballyhale Shamrocks) for Barron (51)
12. Barron for Egan (half-time in extra-time)
22. David Blanchfield (Bennettsbridge) for Murphy (half-time in extra-time)

Presentation College Athenry

1. Patrick Rabbitte (Athenry)

9. Jason Reilly (Turloughmore)
2. Adam Clarke (Craughwell)
4. Eoin Lawless (Athenry)

5. Karl Conneely (Turloughmore)
3. Conor Lee (Clarinbridge)
7. TJ Brennan (Clarinbridge)

12. Brian Connolly (Turloughmore)
8. Shane Quirke (Athenry)

10. Eoin O’Donnell (Ardrahan)
6. Conor Walsh (Turloughmore)
14. Cillian Lawless (Athenry)

13. Mark Kennedy (Clarinbridge)
11. Adam Brett (Killimordaly)
15. Eoin Caulfield (Athenry)

Subs

17. Oisin Salmon (Clarinbridge) for O’Donnell (43)
24. Ian McGlynn (Reilly (47)
21. Bobby Concannon (Killimordaly) for Connolly (59)
20. Donal Parr (Athenry) for Caulfield (61)
19. Brandon Lee (Athenry) for Lawless (73)
18. Dara Coleman (Abbeyknockmmoy) for Walsh (77)

Referee: Fergal Horgan (Tipperary)

******

Colaiste Choilm, Tullamore 0-17

St Patrick’s, Maghera 0-13

Meanwhile in the All-Ireland Post Primary Schools senior B hurling final, Colaise Choilm lifted the title after a four-point victory in Inniskeen.

Managed by former Offaly hurler Colm Cassidy, the Tullamore school secured the victory after extra-time.

Brian Duignan, son of Faithful legend Michael Duignan, scored a late equaliser and fired over 0-12 altogether to help secure the victory for Colaiste Choilm.

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Kevin O'Brien

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