St Patrick’s (Ballyragget) and Piltown open proceedings at Nowlan Park on Sunday when they square up in the J.J Kavanagh & Sons junior championship final. Both sides have been impressive on their way to this final. The current St Patrick’s club which was founded in 1954 side are seeking their second title at this level having won their only other junior championship in 1978 before going on to win the intermediate championship in 1979. Those successes came in the era when inter county star Matt Ruth played with the club. Ruth who was an influential member of the Kilkenny team around that time is now a member of the back room team. St Patricks then spent six years competing in the senior championship with moderate success. A couple of great games against the famous Ballyhale Shamrocks during that period stand out. Relegation to the intermediate grade was followed by the drop to the junior grade in 1985. Since then they have campaigned in that championship without success. They reached the Northern final in 1988 where they were beaten by a good Barrow Rangers side that went on to win the county title. They again reached the Northern final in 1991 when they were a trifle unlucky to lose out by a point (1-7 to 0-9) to St Lachtains (Freshford). Then in 2003 they bridged a 25 year gap in the Northern championship when they beat Galmoy to win the final. Sunday’s opponents Piltown were also the opposition in the county final. It took two attempts to eventually decide the destination of the title. The Ballyragget side led by nine points at one stage of the first game but the Southerners fought back to earn a draw. Piltown 2-12 St Patrick’s 2-12. The replay was just as hard fought with Piltown winning on a 1-11 to 1-8 score line. St Patrick’s come to this final with the Northern title already secured. For the first time this year the Northern and Southern championships were separate championships from the county competition and it seems to have been a resounding success. St Patrick’s beat Blacks & Whites, Erins Own, St Martins and Galmoy to win Northern final and they haven’t looked back since then. In the first round of the county championship they had a surprisingly easy win over Bennettsbridge on a 2-16 to 1-8 score line. In the quarter finals they got the better of a fancied Thomastown 1-16 to 1-10 to qualify for a crack at O Loughlins Gael in the semi final. The city side were dispatched with the minimum of fuss although the Ballyragget mentors might be a little concerned that they appeared to take their foot off the pedal in the second half when victory was in sight. St Patricks will look to the likes of Kieran Delaney who has been an inspiring captain during the year, Brian (Brooky) Phelan, James Gannon, Kevin Kelly, Seoirse Kenny and the Brennan brothers to see them through. Most of those players have seen inter county action at one level or another and will not lack in confidence. The Piltown club was formed in 1887 and reformed in 1953 and has become synonymous as a club, which developed and promoted the ethos of the GAA from grass roots level, harnessing considerable success on the field of play.
The club played in two senior county finals in 1904 and 1910 losing to Tullaroan both occasions.
Whilst the first championship success came with the Junior Title in 1981, the club competed strongly in numerous Intermediate Finals and semi-finals throughout the 80’s, but failed to field the final hurdle to Senior level.
Piltown won further Junior titles in 1996 and also in 2003, where they had a particularly successful year, also winning the Southern League and & Southern and County Championship Finals and the Leinster Junior Hurling Championship. That year was rounded off with the Club receiving the proud honour of Kilkenny GAA Club of the year. The club also won junior hurling championship titles in 1995 (South), 2000(South), and junior (1) & intermediate football championships (2) in 1994,1997 & 2000. Their recent wins included three Southern Junior Hurling League Titles(’08.’09 &’10) and a county Intermediate football League Title(’10).In the League section of this years championship a loss to Thomastown, a draw with Bennettsbridge and victories over Black & Whites, Lisdowney and Slieverue resulted in a 3rd placed group position and a first round clash with neighbours and great rivals, Windgap. The Suirsiders squeezed home by 4 points after a terrific tussle.(Piltown 0-15; Windgap 0-11) They had a much easier quarter final victory over Slieverue after a pretty even first twenty minutes. A Piltown goal just on the call of half time opened up a gap that Slieverue couldn’t bridge.(Piltown 2-21 Slieverue 0-7)In the semi-final Piltown had a surprisingly comfortable win over Lisdowney (Piltown 2-17 Lisdowney 1-8)The likes of Shane Kinchella, Pa Connolly, Philip Kenny, Mark Culleton, and the Mc Carthy’s have experience at a higher level and will all want to return to the intermediate grade as soon as possible.
This final has all the ingredients of a thriller. Much has been made of the potential scoring power of the Ballyragget forwards. However closer examination shows Piltown have actually scored one point more than the Ballyragget men in this championship so far. Piltown 4-53 St Patrick’s 4-52. Will the more experienced Southerners again prove to be too strong for the youthful Ballyragget team or can St Patricks atone for a very disappointing defeat in the 2003 final? We should know the answer on Sunday afternoon.