Our Lady’s Templemore crowned Masita Croke Cup Champions:

Masita GAA Post-Primary Schools Croke Cup Senior Hurling ‘A’ Final

Our Lady’s Secondary School (Templemore) 3-13 St Kieran’s College (Kilkenny) 3-11

By Conor Kane at Semple Stadium

Hopes of an historic Croke Cup four-in-a-row for schools hurling behemoth St Kieran’s were blown apart at Semple Stadium by some fine goal-taking and unerring Brian McGrath accuracy as Our Lady’s of Templemore took the crown.

Behind by four points early in the second half after an unanswered 1-2 from St Kieran’s following the interval, the Templemore school roused themselves again and again to answer the Kilkenny lads’ every move and end up with their second All-Ireland senior title and first since 1978.

Ciaran Brennan was always a handful for Kieran’s, scoring one goal just before the break and setting another up for Adrian Mullen just after, while Mullen added a second for himself in the 42nd minute after the luckless Eoin Colllins saved from Diarmuid Phelan.

But Our Lady’s had stars aplenty of their own, with county minor star Brian McGrath notching 1-8, Ray McCormack and Andrew Ormond also scoring goals and others contributing around the field.

After a cagey enough opening 10 minutes, with the teams trading points and St Kieran’s holding the balance of power with a 0-3 to 0-2 lead, the first half burst into life when a high ball was deflected towards the St Kieran’s square by David O’Shea. Of all the people to find himself one-on-one with the goalkeeper, it was none other than Brian McGrath who made a move to the left before blasting to the net.

Watched by an attendance in Semple Stadium of 3,603, McGrath continued to cause problems, adding two more points in the first period, while Jerry Kelly scored an excellent point after a fine Stephen Nolan run and pass. David O’Shea, Diarmuid Ryan and Lyndon Fairbrother – after a brilliant catch – also got in on the scoring act.

Kieran’s sent plenty of long high balls goalwards during the opening half but they were meat and drink to a sold Templemore full-back line, led by Padraig Campion in the middle, until a rare slip in stoppage time was all the lethal Ciaran Brennan needed to get in on goal and shoot to the roof of the net. Our Lady’s led by 1-7 to 1-6 as the teams headed for the tunnel.

Brennan followed up by scorching the earth on a solo run in the second minute of the second half before laying off to Adrian Mullen who calmly kicked for goal, putting the holders in front for the first time since the 11th minute.

But try as they did, they couldn’t shake off the Templemore challengers and after McCormack’s superb goal tied the scores at 3-9 each, the other green flag raised in fine style by Lyndon Fairbrother, four points in a row sent them glory bound.

Scorers for Our Lady’s – Brian McGrath 1-8 (4F, 2 ’65′), Lyndon Fairbrother 1-1, Ray McCormack 1-0, Diarmuid Ryan 0-1, Jerry Kelly 0-1, David O’Shea 0-1, Aidan O’Meara 0-1.

Scorers for St Kieran’s – Adrian Mullen 2-2 (F, ’65’), Ciaran Brennan 1-1, Eoin O’Shea 0-3, Daithí Barron 0-2, Evan Shefflin 0-1, Ted Drea 0-1, Diarmuid Phelan 0-1.

Our Lady’s: Eoin Collins; Neil Quinlan, Pádraig Campion, Eoghan Ryan; Éanna McBride, Paddy Cadell (c), Aidan O’Meara; Diarmuid Ryan, Stephen Nolan; Ray McCormack, Brian McGrath, Jerry Kelly; Andrew Ormond, David O’Shea, Lyndon Fairbrother. Subs: Jack Ryan for S Nolan (49m), Shane Doyle for D O’Shea (55m), Fintan Purcell for A Ormond (61m).

St Kieran’s: Dean Mason; Tommy Ronan, Michael Carey, Luke Murphy; Ben Lawlor, Martin Keoghan, Killian Egan; Ted Drea, Diarmuid Phelan; Evan Shefflin, Eoghan Moylan, Eoin O’Shea; Daithí Barron, Ciarán Brennan, Adrian Mullen. Subs: Sean Ryan for E Shefflin (41m), Padraic Mullen for E Moylan (55m), Ross Whelan for B Lawlor (55m).

Ref: Colm Lyons (Cork).