Impressive St Kieran’s win Croke Cup
Masita All-Ireland Colleges Senior A Hurling Croke Cup Final
St Kieran's College, Kilkenny 3-13 Presentation College, Athenry 0-12
By Paul Keane at Croke Park
Beaten in last year's Croke Cup final, St Kieran's College returned to Croke Park with a big point to prove and duly made amends with a powerful display to capture their 24th Masita All-Ireland colleges title.
In what was the famous Kilkenny college's eighth consecutive final apperance, goals from Anthony Ireland Wall, Donagh Murphy and Ted Dunne did the trick for Brian Dowling's ultra talented side.
It was also an impressive bounceback from the Leinster final defeat to the combined Offaly colleges side with St Kieran's simply refusing to allow that setback to derail their season.
With Rory Glynn claiming the Man of the Match award and Killian Doyle outstanding at midfield, they led from Glynn's 19th minute point until full-time though Dunne's stoppage time goal glossed the scoreline a little.
For Presentation College, Athenry there will be a terrible sense of deja vu about the defeat as they also lost to St Kieran's in the 2018 and 2019 finals.
St Kieran's returned to this year's decider with a new look defence though joint captains Doyle and Harry Shine, along with attackers Ben Whitty, Dunne and Murphy all lined out in the decider for the second year running.
The provincial final loss could have halted their progress but a fired up St Kieran's then hit St Raphaels, Loughrea for 2-28 in the All-Ireland quarter-finals before edging out Harty Cup winners Cashel CS in the last four to secure their return to Croke Park.
They met an in-form and dogged Athenry side, fresh off a narrow semi-final win over Thurles CBS.
The westerners set up again with number 15 Cian Donoghue as their sweeper, fortifying their defence and leaving them with a two-man inside forward line of free-taker Aaron Niland and Eoin Byrne. St Kierans deployed Jeff Neary as their spare defender.
Tiarnan Leen, the Athenry captain, struck two early points but it was St Kierans that hit the interval with the two-point lead thanks largely to Wall's 24th minute goal.
It was a cracking goal at the end of a surging solo run and his sidewinder to the top left corner sent the St Kieran's support wild.
But the standout Kieran's player of the half was Glynn who picked off four super points from play to leave them 1-7 to 0-8 up at half-time, Niland supplying half of the Athenry scores.
A game that was neck and neck at that stage tilted the way of the Kilkenny side after the break and Murphy's 38th minute goal put significant daylight between the teams for the first time, 2-8 to 0-9.
It was another memorable solo goal as Murphy showed all his craft to play the ball into the loose ahead of him, to avoid being dispossessed or penalised for overcarrying, before cleverly doubling on it to the net.
Athenry needed a goal but could only muster four points in total in the second-half, and just 0-2 from play.
St Kieran's got better as the game wore on and sealed yet another All-Ireland win with a third goal, this time from Dunne, in stoppage time when he latched onto a long delivery and fired from close range to the net.
St Kieran's College scorers: Anthony Ireland Wall 1-2, Ted Dunne 1-1, Rory Glynn 0-4, Donagh Murphy 1-0, Harry Shine 0-2 (0-1f), Ben Whitty 0-1 (0-1 65), Bobby Murphy 0-1, Padraig Naddy 0-1, Killian Doyle 0-1.
Presentation College, Athenry scorers: Aaron Niland 0-6 (0-5f, 0-1 65), Tiarnan Leen 0-2, Gearoid Fahy 0-1, Matthew Tarpey 0-1, Jason Rabbitte 0-1, Shane Monaghan 0-1.
St Kierans College: Stephen Manogue; Bill Hughes, Killian Corcoran, Jeff Neary; Timmy Kelly, Tom McPhilips, Padraig Naddy; Aaron McEvoy, Donagh Murphy; Ben Whitty, Ted Dunne, Killian Doyle; Rory Glynn, Anthony Ireland Wall, Harry Shine.
Subs: Niall Shortall for McEvoy 39, Bobby Murphy for Kelly 39, Sean Hunt for Wall 58, Sean Kennan for Whitty 63.
Presentation College Athenry: Darragh Walsh; Sean Murphy, Conor Lawless, Aaron Shannon; Cian Donoghue; Matthew Tarpey, Michael Fallon, Aaron McDonagh; Darragh Counihan, Tiarnan Leen; Gearoid Fahy, Darragh McCartin, Orin Burke; Aaron Niland, Eoin Byrne.
Subs: Colin Counihan for Darragh Counihan h/t, Shane Monaghan for Byrne 39, Jason Rabbitte for McCartin 49, Nigel Kelly for Burke 57, Oisin Quirke for Fahy 58.
Referee: Johnny Murphy (Limerick).