CBS boys bounce bravely on in search of All-Ireland glory

Kilkenny CBS 3-15

Kilkenny CBS 3-15

Portumna CS1-8

They may have arrived through the ‘back door’ after losing the Leinster final, but fearless and utterly determined Kilkenny CBS have nothing but victory on their mind heading into the All-Ireland colleges senior hurling final in Thurles on Saturday week.

“We are going into the final to win it,” beamed thrilled CBS manager, Seamus Dwyer after a stinging blast of 2-3 during the closing seven minutes buried defiant Portumna Community School in the semi-final at wet and sometimes sun kissed The Ragg on Saturday.

High energy operators St Joseph’s CBS, Nenagh, who produced a most unusual all action game plan and executed it to perfection to beat defending champions, St Kieran’s College in the second semi, will provide the opposition in the decider.

“We are there and we deserve to be there,” Mr Dwyer added. “We have done enough hurling this season to justify being in an All-Ireland final. We are looking forward to it.

“It took us a while to clinch the win. The last two weeks have taken a lot out of the players and we were flat. Putting the score aside, it was probably one of our worst performances as regards energy and things like that.

“I know we got the scores. Other days we haven’t. The drain of the whole thing took its toll on the players. The two weeks break won’t do them any harm.

Will be fresh and ready

“It doesn’t matter who we face in the final. The players will be fresh and ready. There will be no bother getting them ready for the final. It is a great for the school.

“We lost a final in 2007 in very unlucky circumstances. It has been kind of our story since I came around the place. We have lost under-14 and 16 finals in unlucky circumstances. Hopefully this group can turn the tide.”

He said the squad were “a great bunch.”

“There is a strong sprinkling of young players involved. They are absolutely fearless. Names don’t mean anything to these boys. To make the final is great, but we have to finish the job now.”

The big finish from the CBS was in sharp contrast to a fair bit of their hurling that had gone immediately before. Late in the third quarter Portumna enjoyed their best spell, and driven on by powerful centre-back and captain, Paul Killeen, they put three scores together to get within shouting distance, if not exactly on the backs of the CBS (1-12 to 1-5).

During this period the losers simply lost their way. They shot three wides in-a-row. Then hey presto, things changed and suddenly they got back in the groove.

It was the 53rd minute. Mason Clifford fired in a speculative shot from a central position and about 45 metres range. The goalie tried to control the dropping ball with his hurley. The manoeuvre went wrong.

Roared on

The ball fell into the bottom left corner of the net. The CBS jumped 2-12 to 1-7 clear. They roared on!

Paul Delahunty clipped over a nice point within seconds. In the 55th minute Kevin Kenny skipped past a defender in a tight situation on the right inside the old ‘14’ before drilling a low ball into the net from a tight angle (3-13 to 1-7).

The rest, as they say, is history. Two points from frees by Ciaran Doyle, one for a foul on himself and the other on sub Luke Scanlon, completed the figures for record purposes.

The CBS looked the better team throughout. The opposition depended a lot for any power they mustered on young Killeen (he scored 1-3), who received most support from Padraig Muldoon, Ronan O’Meara, Joe Starr and Oisin Royston.

For a good bit of the way during the opening period the losers kept step, sharing equality at 0-1 each and then 0-5 to 1-2, the latter in the 21st minute. The goal was scored by Killeen from a penalty following a foul on O’Meara.

The CBS brushed aside that setback. Within a minute the ball was in the net at the other end. Eoin Fennelly made a good break in from the right wing, and after drawing the cover, popped a perfectly weighted hand-pass ahead to the supporting Kevin Kenny. Virtually from the right edge of the square young Kenny batted the ball down and into the net.

The CBS recovered and eased into a well deserved interval lead of 1-7 to 1-2.

Shortly after the restart driving midfielder, Jack Langton, forced a good save from the Portumna goalie before the sustained attack brought reward in the shape of a point for Ciaran Doyle. The next three scores all fell to the CBS per Doyle, Kenny and sub Danny Bolger as they jumped into what appeared to be a match winning lead of 1-11 to 1-2 nearing the end of the quarter.

The next segment of the game was the poorest as far as the CBS were concerned. While they never looked in any real danger, they allowed the opposition regain a foothold in the game again. Clifford’s goal was the act that finally tripped up the Connacht boys.

Solid showing

Overall it was solid showing from the CBS, coming in the wake of a difficult, high pressure fortnight of hurling. Heroes? Robbie Fitzpatrick and Evan Cody were terrific when the pressure was greatest during the first half, and they never backed down from that high level of performance.

Jack Langton, Ciaran Doyle and Owen McGrath stormed into it after the turn, while Kevin Kenny was hugely productive too. Philly Campion got through a lot of hurling in a deep lying position out the field, while Mason Clifford worked and worked, never allowing the tide to turn against his team.

Scorers: Kilkenny CBS m- Ciaran Doyle (0-9, seven frees); Kevin Kenny (2-1); Mason Clifford (1-1); Darragh Sheehan, Philly Campion, Danny Bolger, Paul Delahunty (0-1 each). Portumna CS – Paul Killeen (1-3, goal penalty, one 65, one free); Joe Starr (0-2); Ronan O’Meara (0-2, one free); David Daly (0-1).

Kilkenny CBS – Darragh Holohan (Dicksboro); Shane Cassin (Clara), Evan Cody (Dicksboro), Cathal McGrath (John Lockes); Niall Mullins (James Stephens), Owen McGrath (John Lockes), Robbie Fitzpatrick (Dicksboro); Darragh Sheehan (Danesfort), Jack Langton, capt (Clara); Kevin Kenny (Dicksboro), Mason Clifford (Dicksboro), Eoin Fennelly (Dicksboro); Shane Cuddihy (Tullaroan), Ciaran Doyle (Barrow Rangers), Philly Campion (St Lachtain’s). Subs – Danny Bolger (O’Loughlin Gaels) for Cuddihy; Paul Delahunty (Young Irelands) for Campion; Robbie Buckley (O’Loughlin Gaels) for Fennelly; Luke Scanlon (James Stephens) for Clifford.

Portumna CS – M. Fahy, S. Neylon, P. Muldoon, S. Tuohy, C. Kelly, P. Killeen (capt), O. Royston, J. Starr, C. Barry, D. Daly, O. Treacy, C. Burke, N. Maloney, A. Hogan, R. O’Meara. Sub – J. Downey for Hogan; L. Fahy for Maloney.

Referee – F. Horgan (Tipperary).