DEFENDING All-Ireland and current Leinster league and championship kingpins, St Kieran’s College are chasing their best game as they prepare to face the form team of the moment, Ardscoil Ris (Limerick) in what promises to be a rip-roaring All-Ireland colleges senior hurling (Roinn A) final in Thurles on Saturday.
The Kilkenny school are the biggest winners of the Croke Cup with 17 successes to their name, but it will be something akin to pulling a tiger by the tail when they take on Ardscoil in a repeat of last year’s decider.
The Shannonsiders have been in red hot form in Munster, having averaged 2-19 in their four games. In the provincial final they walloped totally out-classed Charleville CBS by 3-19 to 0-3.
In their most recent game, the All-Ireland semi-final against Castlecomer Community School, Ardscoil clocked up 2-16 when dishing out a 16 point beating.
Head turning form, on top of a desire to get revenge on the team that beat them in last year’s final, has turned this into something bordering on a season of atonement for the Limerick side, who are chasing their first All-Ireland win.
Ardscoil looked on course for victory in last year’s final when they led by 2-8 to 1-6 turning into the closing stages. However, a goal from Michael Brennan breathed new life in the Noresiders challenges.
A point from defender, William Phelan was followed by another from Kilkenny captain of last season, Cillian Buckley to level things at 2-8 each as suddenly the tide turned swiftly and firmly in Kieran’s favour.
The Kilkenny lads powered on. They eventually won a game they looked like losing for long spells by 2-11 to 2-8. The Shannonsiders were shocked by the dramatic turn in fortunes, but they regrouped brilliantly this season and they are the favourites as they head into this decider.
While that defeat may be long gone, it has not been forgotten. It has been a powerful motivating force for the Limerick lads, who apparently had a sticker on the wall of their dressing-room in the semi-final reminding them about the day of that day in Thurles.
Ardscoil return to the scene of that disappointment determined in the extreme to make sure nothing like that happens again.
See Kilkenny People this week.