The Kilkenny footballers have completed the greatest weekend for the sport on Noreside in decades following a nine-point defeat of New York in Sunday’s All-Ireland Junior Football Championship final.
Goals from Jamie Holohan, Mick Kenny and John Walsh proved crucial for the Cats as they backed up Friday’s semi-final win against London with another superb performance and result in the decider.
It was the start that manager Christy Walsh would have been craving in a sun-drenched Croke Park as his side raced into an early 0-05 to 0-00 lead thanks to points from Kenny (2), Holohan, Jim Culleton and Conor Hennessy.
New York responded with two points of their own, but a Culleton point coupled with a brilliant Holohan goal moved Kilkenny into a seven-point lead midway through an open and entertaining first half in the capital.
Their opponents refused to give in, however, despite Kilkenny gaining control of the encounter as back-to-back scores kept them within touching distance at the interval, Kilkenny 1-06 to 0-04 New York.
The second half took on a life of its own as it wore on with both teams throwing caution to the wind in an effort to apply pressure and force the opposition into making mistakes.
That eventually was the route to success for Kilkenny, but not without having to cling on at stages as the game progressed.
Half-back Kevin Blanchfield along with Tom Kenny and Ethan Phelan all got on the scoresheet to give Kilkenny a healthy lead as they seemingly looked to be cruising to a comfortable win.
That was not the case though. New York hit the back of the net on the 50th minute mark to leave three points between the sides and set up a nervy climax.
Holding a 1-10 to 1-07 lead but struggling to retain possession, the men in black and amber needed a jolt from somewhere and an inspired Mick Kenny duly supplied it.
Two frees were clinically dispatched before the Lisdowney man sent his side’s bench wild when he got Kilkenny’s second goal to leave the scoreboard reading 2-12 to 1-09 as the clock ticked towards full-time.
Substitute John Walsh put some gloss on the scoreline with the last piece of action as the Mullinavat forward, who was also a 2014 All-Ireland Minor Hurling Championship winner with the county, slotted past the onrushing New York goalkeeper to wrap up a memorable day for Kilkenny football.
The honour of lifting the trophy went to Mullinavat’s Mick Malone as he climbed the steps of the Hogan Stand to send every Kilkenny person inside the famous stadium into delirium.
Everyone at Scoreline and KCLR would like to congratulate Kilkenny on a magnificent achievement. Well done lads!