Kilkenny hope to make it third time lucky
All-Ireland Vocational Schools senior hurling final - Kilkenny v Galway Thomastown: Saturday 2pm
By Pat Treacy
Kilkenny head into their third All-Ireland Vocational Schools senior final in a row next Saturday in Grennan Thomastown.
They have been a bit unlucky in last two finals. They lost to Tipperary in the snow in Thurles in 2010, while a point from a controversial late free in last year’s final proved to be their undoing against the Blue and Gold once again.
This year Kilkenny had only one game to reach the final, as disappointingly, Offaly withdrew from the competition. Last weekend Kilkenny overcame a physically strong Limerick outfit in Rahkeale, winning 3-12 to 1-12. Trailing by two points in the closing stages, Willie Brennan (Fenians) conjured up a goal and Mark Russell (Waterford) bagged another to give Kilkenny a hard-fought victory.
Galway have accounted for big guns Cork (0-13 to 0-11) and Tipperary (0-17 to 1-11) on their journey to the final. The Tribesmen have been very successful in this grade over the years, but they have not won it since 2003, with Cork and Tipperary dominant in recent years.
Galway trailed 0-9 to 0-5 at half time in the semi-final against Tipperary, but an inspirational display from centre half back Darragh Burke and an exhibition of point scoring from Barry Keane (0-9, 7f) and John Ryan (0-3) gave them the edge in the second half.
Galway would appear to be solid in defence, only conceding one goal from a 20 metre free in two games, with goalkeeper Peter Whelan a commanding figure between the posts.
There are 10 clubs represented on the Kilkenny panel, with talented players like Willie Brennan, Conor Martin, Barry Whelan, Shane Donnelly, Kevin Sweeney, Luke Hickey, and Willie Doyle on board. The Kilkenny Vocational Schools have a rich history of top hurlers coming through the ranks, with Noel Skehan, Dick O’Hara, Kevin Fennelly, JJ Delaney, and many more having their talents nursed through the grade.
Grennan College teacher Derek Dooley has been a driving force behind the Kilkenny effort, and with John Cahill of Coláiste Mhuire Johnstown they will be hoping for a change of luck on Saturday.
Hopefully, it will be third time lucky for Kilkenny.