WHILE Kilkenny CBS captured their only All-Ireland colleges senior hurling ‘A’ crown in 1981, the result of a more recent final is driving their 2013 bid for glory.
The pain of losing last year’s final to Nenagh CBS (a game the Kilkenny school went under in by 3-10 to 2-11) is the real spur behind the side’s dash to this year’s decider. “We’ve been beaten in two finals since 1981,” CBS manager Niall Tyrrell said after last Saturday’s 1-12 to 0-10 semi-final victory over Mercy Colleges (Galway) in Banagher. “We’ve only ever won one and it would be absolutely marvellous to win another because the work that has been put in and the time that is invested in the young lads from the time they come in as first years until they leave is incredible.”
It wasn’t just the trainers and players who drew praise. Everyone at the school has played their part in the CBS cause.
“I have to give a mention to Tom Clarke our principal,” said Tyrrell. “Anything we ever need or want he’s there to help - we are never found wanting for anything. That goes for the whole school - because of them there is a lovely atmosphere there among the panel now. Everyone is getting a fair chance and they are enjoying their hurling.”
With the final pencilled in for Saturday week (April 6) the CBS are now in the position where they can get a look at their next opponents ahead of the big game.
“We’re really looking forward to the final,” Tyrrell remarked. “It will be nice to go to the other semi-final (St Kieran’s v Dungarvan Colleges) and have a look at it with the pressure off us.
Go step further
“We obviously know what happened with the heartbreak of last year. We’ll be looking to go a step further this time.”
The CBS, who beat St Kieran’s by 2-9 to 1-7 in this year’s Leinster final, know their city rivals could well provide the opposition again in the All-Ireland final. Tyrrell outlined that it was difficult for CBS living in the shadow of St Kieran’s.
“It was hard,” he admitted. “There is no point in saying anything different. And I think other CBS teams in years gone by were already four or five points down before they went out on the pitch against St Kieran’s but these lads are different.
“The last couple of years that they have played them, they’ve beaten them. They don’t fear them. Of course they respect them - you have to respect Kieran’s College. And I’m sure if Kieran’s get to the final it will be a real humdinger. It will be great to have two Kilkenny teams in the final.”
CBS trailed by 0-4 to 0-7 before pulling away during the concluding half of Saturday’s semi-final. Having scouted the opposition ahead of the clash - Tyrrell watched Mercy Colleges come from eight points down with 14 minutes remaining to beat Ulster Colleges by 2-12 to 1-14 in the quarter-final - the manager knew his side would have to work hard to get the result.
“I knew they were going to make it a ferocious battle,” Tyrrell said of Mercy Colleges. “At half-time I was worried, but we have been in similar positions in the past and I knew our lads would come out and give it absolutely everything that they have. And all we could do is hope it would be enough and in the end it was.”
He praised the maturity of the players, their approach to the second half and also the fact that 1-11 of their 1-12 came from play.
“We’re delighted with that,” he said. “We knew the conditions were going to be poor but we were ready. We actually travelled up here on Thursday and had a light workout and did a few shooting drills and it was probably the best thing we could have done.”
Kevin Kenny was in magnificent form and contributed 1-4. Tyrrell heaped praise on the talented Dicksboro player.
“I’m absolutely thrilled for Kevin. He has worked extremely hard all year. He was sick during the week with a touch of flu and we were a little bit worried about starting him at centre-forward.
“We were considering starting him in the corner, but in fairness when we really needed him he came up trumps,” he said. “He is an unbelievable hurler for us.”