Kilkenny CBS know all about trying to muscle in on the territory controlled by giants. They have tried and tried. Fate hasn’t been overly kind.
For the sixth time in eight seasons the James Street lads will go in search of the Leinster colleges senior hurling championship title when they defend the crown against mighty St Kieran’s College in Nowlan Park on Sunday (12 noon).
While there has been consistency in the form of the CBS, getting over the line hasn’t been easy. Last year’s 2-9 to 1-7 success over Kieran’s was the lone success in that period, a poor return when measured against four defeats.
Over the last five years and more the CBS have been producing good teams, but despite contesting the last two All-Ireland finals, they failed to add to their lone Croke Cup success of 1981. Fate hasn’t been kind. First they were beaten by a crack Nenagh CBS side and then a combination team from Dungarvan Colleges scuppered their chances.
Just when the CBS came good and were able to get beyond St Kieran’s, so too did others who deprived them. Sport can be a tough arena at times.
Kieran’s, that great bastion of hurling, have 52 Leinster wins to the credit, plus 18 All-Irelands. Already this year they beat Sunday’s opponents in the Leinster league final, and unless the CBS hit heights so far unattained this season, the black and white wearers look destined to add to the glory run.
The game is the curtain-raiser to the National Hurling League clash between Kilkenny and Galway. A good setting for an attractive feature, and early comers to the ’Park should be treated to a fine contest as there will be a bevy of classy hurlers on show.
St Kieran’s have been like a team in a hurry since the championship began. They burst out of the blocks in their games against Castlecomer Community School and Colaiste Eoin (Dublin). The contests were over at half-time as a lively Kieran’s attack riddled the opposition.
Robbie Donnelly has been powerful up front, and terrific assistance has been given by Sean Morrissey and Liam Blanchfield. At the back Kieran’s have been powered by might centre-back, James Maher, while Kevin Blanchfield, Jack Keoghan, Tommy and Eoin Walsh have been hurling very well too.
Completing the Leinster League/Championship double is the only thing on the minds of a talented, well tuned outfit.
The CBS beat St Brendan’s, Birr and Good Counsel (New Ross), if not in the same convincing fashion, then by showing considerable promise. For them the big challenge is to transfer promise into a solid performance, because to date the team effort hasn’t added up to the strength of the individual parts.
Paddy Deegan, Andrew Gaffney, J.P. Treacy, Cathal McGrath, Niall Mullins, Luke Scanlon and gifted attacker, Robbie Buckley - if used as and out and out striker - and company need to generate a storm this time if they are to blow down Kieran’s house.
Form suggests the title is St Kieran’s for the taking. However, in derby matches in any sport, just about anything is possible.
The winners quality for the All-Ireland semi-finals. The losers will be in action the following weekend in the All-Ireland quarter-finals against the losers from the Munster final.
St Kieran’s College - Jason Barcoe, Tommy Walsh, Eoin Walsh, Jason Cleere, Darren Mullen, James Maher, Jack Keoghan, Kevin Blanchfield, Jason Byrne, Liam Blanchfield, Sean Morrissey, Daniel O’Connor, Robbie Donnelly, Billy Ryan, Niall Walsh, Gavin Costigan, Bill Carrigan, Gary Tynan, Eoghan Kearney, Josh Haines, Tadhg O’Dwyer, Ray Lahart, Kieran Freeman, Michael Cody, Eddie Delaney, Paul White, Shane Walsh, Billy Hanlon, Aly Rafter, Richie Leahy, Brian Cody, Conor O’Carroll, Conor Murphy, Joe Cuddihy.
Kilkenny CBS - Darragh Holohan (capt), Kevin Galvin, Cathal McGrath, Dylan Scott, J.P. Treacy, Paddy Deegan, Gary Bryan, Niall Mullins, James Lenehan, Danny Bolger, Luke Scanlon, Andrew Gaffney, Robbie Buckley, Jamie Byrne, Paul Delahanty, John Hanrick, Ross Butler, Huw Lawlor, Diarmuid Doheny, Bill Cuddihy, Bob Cuddihy, Robbie Murphy, Matthew McWey, Conor Doheny, Jim Dollard, Evan Cody, Kevin Mullan, Chris Kavanagh, Jamie Kavanagh, Vinny Wallace, Mark Drennan, Ronain Butler, Aaron O’Neill, John Walton, Jake Scanlon, Jim Moore, Robbie O’Driscoll, Thomas Kenny.