A late second half surge saw Our Lady’s Templemore snatch the Croke Cup from St Kieran’s College and dash their four-in-a-row hopes.
The Tipp side seemed to be in trouble when goals either side of half-time from Ciaran Brennan and Adrian Mullen saw Kieran’s surge ahead, but they showed their resolve to storm right back.
Ray McCormack gave his side hope when he fired home a 49th minute goal, levelling the game at 3-9 apiece, before points from Brian McGrath (0-3) and Aidan O’Meara pushed them into a lead they would not lose.
Templemore started the game with a steely determination and were quick to put the shackles on the Kieran’s attack.
That made for a tense and tight start to the game, with both sides taking time to get going. Kieran’s had edged narrowly in front (0-3 to 0-2) by the 10th minute courtesy of Adrian Mullen’s free, but they were rocked when Templemore surged ahead.
Brian McGrath got the Tipp side motoring, racing on to a dropping Stephen Nolan ball before blasting it to the Kieran’s net in the 12th minute. He quickly added a free, stretching the lead. The Tipp side were in control now, going further in front thanks to points from Lyndon Fairbrother and Jerry Kelly, before McGrath soloed his way to another point to make it 1-6 to 0-5 with 24 minutes on the clock.
Kieran’s were in some bother by that stage, but kept their cool. Eoin O’Shea grabbed a vital point, but while McGrath wiped that out with a free (taking his first half tally to 1-3) the Tipp side were stunned when Ciaran Brennan blasted home an injury-time goal, cutting the gap to a single point at the break (Our Lady’s 1-7, St Kieran’s 1-6).
The Kilkenny side picked up the pace in the second half, storming ahead when Adrian Mullen booted the sliotar to the net. Fine points from Eoin O’Shea and Evan Shefflin added to their advantage, the Saints now 2-8 to 2-6 up.
Templemore weren’t about to give in, hitting back with a fine goal from Lyndon Fairbrother, but as soon as they scored that one Kieran’s posted a reply, Mullen flicking the sliotar home after Diarmuid Phelan’s 42nd minute shot was saved.
That saw Kieran’s push ahead, but Templemore weren’t finished. That late surge of 1-4 pushed them towards victory; points from Mullen (65) and Daithi Barron made for a nervy finish, but they held on.
SCORERS: Our Lady’s, Templemore – Brian McGrath (1-8, 0-4 frees, 0-2 65); Lyndon Fairbrother (1-1); Ray McCormack (1-0); Aidan O’Meara, Diarmuid Ryan, Jerry Kelly, David O’Shea (0-1 each). St Kieran’s College – Adrian Mullen (2-2, 0-1 free, 0-1 65); Ciaran Brennan (1-1); Eoin O’Shea (0-3, 0-1 line ball); Daithi Barron (0-2); Ted Drea, Diarmuid Phelan, Evan Shefflin (0-1 each).