For the third successive year Kilkenny CBS were left to pick up the pieces after a losing effort in the All-Ireland colleges senior hurling final, but they will drive on.
“This is heartbreaking,” insisted team manager, Niall Tyrrell after the CBS were shot down by St Kieran’s College in the first all Kilkenny decider. “Thankfully we have some silverware to show after the season.
“The players have to be positive. You don’t get to an All-Ireland final, beat the quality they beat on the way, without being a good team. It is heartbreaking to lose three in-a-row. We are knocking on the door. We have to be doing something right. We are in the top two in Ireland for three years, but we haven’t been able to get over the line.
“That is hard to take. We have eight or nine of the team under age again next year, so we will have another go at things. That is life in sport. You are knocked down, but you pick yourself up for the next challenge. That’s what we will do.”
Mr Tyrrell admitted that it was very, very difficult to speak to the players afterwards. The three in-a-row issue was never mentioned. It wasn’t a motivating factor along the way, so it wasn’t mentioned in the run up to the final.
“We have an incredible group of lads,” the James Stephens clubman continued. “They gave us absolutely everything. They didn’t deserve to lose the way they did. That is sport. It is hurling. It can be cruel at times.
“We opened so well, we looked good. It is amazing what a goal can do. We got a great start to both halves. When we went five points up, if we had scored a goal then, maybe we could have pushed on. Who knows? To be fair to St Kieran’s, they got the goals at the right times and they drove on.
“We got them in the Leinster final. I remember saying after the Leinster final that we got the lucky breaks; we got two goals. St Kieran’s are great the way they take to this championship. There is just no end to them. We knew well after the Leinster final that we could meet them again.”
He reminded that the CBS beat Kieran’s by six points in the Leinster final, but they knew there wasn’t six points between them.
“We had a fair idea we would meet them again,” he said. “Coming into the game it was a 50/50 shot. I didn’t see that margin of defeat. But that is hurling.
“The players are, naturally, disappointed but they cannot judge the entire season on the closing 30 minutes of the final. At the end of the day they won two Leinster championships in-a-row. For our school that is huge. It never happened before. That is special. These players are part of that achievement.”
Next year, he continued, will bring a whole new challenge and the CBS will rise again. What happened in Nowlan Park happened.
“It has to be a learning experience for us,” he insisted again. “We have to remain positive. They are young lads. They will get over this, and please god the experience will make them better. We will keep trying and we will get there eventually.
“These lads have bright futures ahead of them,” Mr Tyrrell insisted. “They didn’t win an All-Ireland today, but they must believe there are better days ahead, maybe in a Kilkenny jersey. We will give them a few days to work this out in their heads, and we will chat with them again.”