A BIT OF insider knowledge could be the key that will unlock hurling riches for Kilkenny CBS in Saturday’s early awaited All-Ireland colleges senior final.
The ever improving James Street boys are booked for a showdown against tactically astute St Joseph’s CBS, Nenagh in Semple Stadium on (3.15pm).
However, a well versed hurling man in the Kilkenny camp could yet undo the Tipperary lads.
The Kilkenny school principal and one of the team selectors is none other than a Tipperary man, who has serious knowledge of the Munster colleges’ championship and the Harty Cup trail. And he could turn out to be the ace in the pack for the James Street lads.
Past experiences on the Harty Cup scene with Thurles CBS, where he taught for 11 years, and later as principal for a decade in Charleville, have given Tom Clarke an understanding of the Munster scene that could make the difference in the Noresiders quest for what would be a second All-Ireland win.
“Nenagh are a very good team,” Mr Clarke, a Tipp man, and a proud one at that, told the ’People. “However, I have a serious job to do for Kilkenny this time.
Last chance saloon
“One of the most pleasing things about our team is that in each match the players have built on progress made. Hopefully we can bring the same work ethic to the final that we have shown in all our games to date and that will leave me having to offer sympathy to a Tipperary team at the finish.”
For seven of the Kilkenny players, Saturday’s final represents the last chance saloon in terms of winning big at secondary schools level, because they are due to leave the CBS at the end of term.
“Those are the fellows who are driving all of this,” said team manager Seamus Dwyer of the bubbling enthusiasm within the squad.
The players took ownership of the cause after St Kieran’s College beat the CBS in the Leinster final, after; it was generally agreed, enjoying a fair slice of luck.
The older players on the CBS panel, those in 6th year, called a meeting with the younger lads to forge a new bond and sharpen the focus as they tried to get the season back on track.
The players had a squad meeting, without any prompt or influence from team management. They weren’t going out on a whimper was the message from the room. They weren’t going without silverware.
“The final is a big, big day for young lads to handle,” Mr Dwyer said. “Our job at this stage is to keep them grounded, to keep them focussed. It is a big day in many ways, but in others it is just another game of hurling.
“All we can control, and we have been saying it to the players, is ourselves and how we perform. If we perform to the best of our ability we will get Jack Langton (the captain) up the steps,” he said when he signed off with a smile (see also pages 6, 7 and 8).
Meanwhile, the GAA have moved to clear up confusion and misunderstandings about the possible ramifications before the final round of matches in the preliminaries of the National Hurling League this weekend.
With the results of all three matches in Division IA – Kilkenny v Galway; Tipperary v Cork; Dublin v Waterford – having a bearing on the qualifiers for the semi-finals and relegation, few were sure about exactly how things would work out.
The top three teams from Division 1A will go forward to the semi-finals. The pairings there will be the top team in Division 1A versus the winners of the 1B final; second team in 1A versus third team in 1A.
The bottom two teams will contest the relegation play-off, with the losers dropping back to Division IB next season.
From a Kilkenny point of view, a draw would suffice to earn them one of the three semi-final places.
The possibilities are many. Basically, scoring difference will decide finishing places in the league table if teams end on the same number of points.
However, if two teams only are involved, meaning two are level on points, the outcome of the meeting of those teams in the competition will decide the finishing order. Scoring difference is decided by subtracting the total scores against from total scores for, according to the GAA communiqué.