All-Ireland Post Primary Schools Senior A Hurling Final – Saturday, 31st March
Presentation Athenry 3-12 St. Kieran’s Kilkenny 3-12 (FULL-TIME – Extra Time to be Played)
For the second consecutive game, Presentation College, Athenry produced a houdini act again to come back from 12 points behind and force extra-time in Pearse Stadium.
After conceding three goals in four minutes just before half-time, they found themselves 3-10 to 0-7 behind five minutes into the second half. And with six minutes left, Athenry were still 3-12 to 0-12 down before staging a stunning recovery.
They were 11 points down in the semi-final against Kilkenny CBS but when Adam Brett goal on 54 minutes, there was a glimmer of hope. Mark Kennedy quickly added another but as injury time played out, it looked like time had caught up with the Galway school.
However, three minutes into added time, Brett got the touch despite the best efforts of keeper Dean Mason for the third goal to level the match and force another 20 minutes.
Mike Finn’s team recovered from a shaky start to level at 0-6 apiece by the 20th minute and could have had a goal before the Leinster side opened up.
Eoin O’Shea and Daithi Barron gave St. Kieran’s a two-point lead in as many minutes before Mark Kenney got Presentation’s first.
Conor Kelly and Adrian Mullen made it 0-4 to 0-1 on seven minutes but Athenry got back on level terms with Cillian Lawless scoring before Kennedy added two placed balls.
Another on the quarter hour gave Presentation the lead but that was overturned within two minutes as Kelly and Mullen converted for frees for St. Kieran’s.
However, the game swung on a five-minute spell that saw Athenry give their opponents a comfortable margin. Firstly, Eoin Caulfield got in for a goal chance only for a brave save from Dean Mason.
Kennedy put over the resulting 65 to level at 0-6 apiece but the next three scores all raised green flags and went the way of the Kilkenny school.
Barron got the first on 21 minutes before Ciaran Brennan exploited gaps in the Athenry defence for the second three minutes later. And within 60 seconds, David O’Carroll capitalised on further St. Kieran’s pressure for the third major.
When Kelly added a point on 28 minutes, St. Kieran’s were 3-7 to 0-6 clear and a fourth Dr. Croke Cup in five seasons is looking good for them.
TJ Brennan pointed for Athenry from the restart but St. Kieran’s looked to continue in cruise control as Barron, Mullen and Kelly made it 3-10 to 0-7 on 34 minutes.
Athenry were pulling players back trying to curtail Kieran’s dominance and the Kilkenny team did have two more goal chances with Eoin Lawless denying Kelly the pick of the stops.
Two Kennedy frees reduced arrears before Brett got this first white flag and Eoin Caulfield saw his effort just shade over the crossbar to leave it 3-10 to 0-11 on 48 minutes.
But they looked to be no more than consolation efforts as two Mullen outscored a Conor Walsh Athenry point making it 3-12 to 0-12 with six minutes remaining.
But two Brett goals either side of a Kennedy major delivered a stunning recovery and forced another 20 minutes of action in Semple Stadium.
Presentation Athenry: Patrick Rabbitte; Adam Clarke, Conor Lee, Eoin Lawless; Karl Conneely, Conor Walsh (0-1), TJ Brennan (0-1); Shane Quirke, Jason Reilly; Eoin O’Donnell, Adam Brett (2-1), Brion Connolly; Mark Kennedy (1-7, six frees, one ’65), Cillian Lawless (0-1), Eoin Caulfield (0-1).
St. Kieran’s Kilkenny: Dean Mason; Tommy Ronan, Conor Murphy, Mark Nolan; Diarmuid Phelan; Jesse Roberts, Luke Murphy; Killian Egan, Adrian Mullen (0-5, both frees); Eoghan Moylan, Eoin O’Shea (0-1), Daithi Barron (1-2); Conor Kelly (0-4, one free), Ciaran Brennan (1-0), David O’Carroll (1-0).
Referee: Fergal Horgan (Tipperary)