Ardscoil Rís Colm Flynn in action during the Croke Cup final at Croke Park.
Ardscoil Rís Colm Flynn in action during the Croke Cup final at Croke Park.

Ardscoil Rís win Croke Cup

Masita Post Primary Schools senior hurling championship final


By Paul Keane at Croke Park

At the fourth time of asking, Ardscoil Ris have finally taken down St Kieran's College to claim the Croke Cup title they've craved for so long.

David Kennedy's 56th minute goal, which moved the Limerick side from two to five points clear, ultimately settled what was a tight and tense encounter at Croke Park.

It was never going to be anything else with so much history between the two colleges and all of it stacked against Ardscoil Ris.

In their previous three finals, in 2010, 2011 and 2016, they'd lost to Kieran's narrowly on each occasion though Niall Moran's side gave an assured performance this time to finally claim the Masita All-Ireland senior colleges title.

Kennedy was excellent in attack and finished with 1-3 while joint captain Shane O'Brien secured the Man of the Match award.

Niall O'Farrell overcame injury to turn in a huge game too and ran O'Brien close for the individual honour with eight excellent points, three from open play.

St Kieran's, chasing a three-in-a-row of titles, were seeking their 24th win overall but came up just short of the superior force.

Nerves initially threatened to derail this encounter with both sides guilty of shooting a series of poor wides in the opening quarter.

St Kieran's centre-back Joe Fitzpatrick, excellent on the day, then stepped up with two long-range scores to settle his side and move them 0-5 to 0-3 ahead. It appeared to be the sort of intervention that may inspire his team to pull decisively clear.

The opposite occurred as Ardscoil Ris, who fired seven wides in the opening half, suddenly came to life and outscored the holders by 0-8 to 0-1 in the run up to half-time to move into pole position.

Moran and his management team went with a two-man full-forward line of O'Farrell and Kennedy which cleared Cian Scully to operate as a seventh defender in the Ardscoil Ris backline.

It worked a treat as he got on plenty of ball and helped break up a series of Kieran's attacks.

Free-taker O'Farrell was in excellent form for Ardscoil Ris from both placed balls and in open play with back to back scores and then a three-in-a-row of points in the lead up to the interval.

In truth, Ardscoil Ris should have been further ahead at half-time than just 0-11 to 0-6 as O'Farrell failed to convert a penalty after Fitzpatrick had hauled down Rian O'Byrne.

From the resulting puck-out, Ben Whitty made a great catch and pointed for St Kieran's but that was his side's only score between the 17th minute and half-time.

Kieran's crept gradually back into the game in the second-half, slowly but surely whittling down the deficit and when Ben Whitty converted three points in a row between the 51st and 55th minutes, just two points separated the teams.

Brian Dowling's side could have done with a goal but it never arrived despite a series of half chances from Alex Sheridan, Anthony Ireland Wall and Whitty.

The game's only goal came in the 56th minute when Kennedy was set free by Ardscoil Ris sub Dylan Lynch and planted his shot in the net at the Hill 16 End, sending supporters in the 4,090 strong crowd into derlerium.

Scorers for Ardscoil Ris: Niall O'Farrell 0-8 (0-4f, 0-1 65), David Kennedy 1-3, Shane O'Brien 0-3, Rian O'Byrne 0-1, Jack Golden 0-1, Dylan Lynch 0-1.

Scorers for St Kieran's College: Joe Fitzpatrick 0-4 (0-1f), Ben Whitty 0-4 (0-1f, 0-1 65), Harry Shine 0-3 (0-1f), Padraig Naddy 0-1, Paddy Langton 0-1, James Carroll 0-1, Donagh Murphy 0-1.

Ardscoil Ris: Seimi Gully; Evan O'Leary, John Fitzgerald, Colm Flynn; Cian Scully; Michael Gavin, Brian O'Keeffe, Vince Harrington; JJ Carey, Rian O'Byrne; Oisin O'Farrell, Shane O'Brien, Jack Golden, Niall O'Farrell, David Kennedy.

Subs: Riain McNamara for Fitzgerald 38 - f/t blood, Dylan Lynch for Flynn 49, Diarmuid Stritch for O'Byrne 59, Sean McMahon for O'Keeffe 60.

St Kieran's College: Alan Dunphy; Jack Butler, Adam O'Connor, Padraig Lennon; Paddy Langton, Joe Fitzpatrick, Conor Cody; James Carroll, Killian Doyle; Luke Connellan, Ted Dunne, Ben Whitty; Padraig Naddy, Harry Shine, Donagh Murphy.

Subs: Anthony Ireland Wall for Naddy 42, Alex Sheridan for Murphy 52, Nick Doheny for Dunne 56.

Referee: Liam Gordon (Galway).