Brother against brother in unique final

Mullen brothers Darren, who goes to St. Kieran's College and Kevin, who goes to Kilkenny CBS, who will be part of the two panels who will be competing against each other in the Senior Hurling Colleges All-Ireland Final in Nowlan Park.  (Photo: Eoin Hennessy)
In another unusual twist in a unique match, it will be brother against brother in Saturday’s history making All-Ireland colleges hurling final.

In another unusual twist in a unique match, it will be brother against brother in Saturday’s history making All-Ireland colleges hurling final.

The Mullen brothers from Castlebanny, Ballyhale, will be in opposites camps when St Kieran’s College and Kilkenny CBS go head-to-head in the senior All-Ireland final in Nowlan Park on Saturday (5pm).

Flying wing-back Darren (16) will be hoping to help Kieran’s add to their huge All-Ireland take, while Kevin (17) will be willing the CBS to victory in the first decider to feature two schools from the same county.

“There won’t be a problem about who to shout for,” insisted proud dad, Declan Mullen, who enjoyed a distinguished career with James Stephens. “If either or both of them are on the ball we will be behind them.

“At the end of the day it is a hurling match between two teams. As parents, Monica and I and the rest of the family are there to support the two lads.

“If this is the only problem or dilemma we face in life, we won’t be too bad,” he laughed. “Wouldn’t any family involved in sport love to be in the position? Even if they were marking each other I wouldn’t mind.

“There will be two medals from a huge All-Ireland final in our house on Saturday night, so we will have little to complain about.”

Incidentally, the boys’ mother is the former Miss Fennelly, sister of high achieving hurlers, Michael, Ger, Kevin, Sean, Liam, Brendan and Dermot, who helped Ballyhale Shamrocks to enormous success at local and national level in the eighties and nineties.

The final and its unique standing has really grabbed the imagination of the sporting public. Both sides are entering the final as champions - the CBS from the Leinster championship, and Kieran’s from the Leinster league.

The schools actually faced each other in those finals too as they dominated the senior colleges scene. This is the third consecutive year for the CBS to contest the senior All-Ireland final.

The James Street school are chasing what would be a terrific senior/junior All-Ireland double. Their juniors (under-16½) won the national title on Saturday when beating Midleton CBS in a decider played in driving wind and rain.

The CBS were singing in the rain afterwards. They will be hoping to keep the good times rolling at Nowlan Park. They are chasing their second senior title. The one and only win was recorded in 1981.

St Kieran’s are the biggest winners by far in the All-Ireland series, which is for the Croke Cup. They won the competition 18 times, four more than second placed St Flannan’s of Ennis.

“A match like this could change the career of a young player,” suggested former great, D.J. Carey, when he spoke to the ’People about the big game. “I am really looking forward to it.”

Carey was an unknown when he played in his first senior colleges All-Ireland in 1988. By the time he left St Kieran’s he had pocketed two winners medals, and he was on the way to a glittering career.

Incidentally, all the team handlers were or are members of the James Stephens club. St Kieran’s officials, Ken Maher, Liam Smith and Ger Flood are Village men, while CBS selectors, Matt Ruth and Niall Tyrrell are current members. Their colleague Ger Morrissey was involved in the past. He is now involved the Rower-Inistioge, who he guided to All-Ireland club intermediate honours weeks ago.