National Secondary schools review

National Secondary schools review image

Jason O’Connor reports on St Brendans College Killarney winning the National Secondary Schools title for a third straight year in Hillview on Friday May 17th, but this time with a different team.

At a soft Hillview track last Friday which felt more like the wet winter we thought we had left behind us, St Brendans College continued their recent domination of the National Secondary Schools scene with a team of Ben Kelliher (Capt), Brian McCarthy and Nathan Cronin giving them an eight shot victory over their provincial winning counterparts in Leinster, Castlepollard Community College of Westmeath.

The Sem’s ‘B’ team had led after 18 holes on a combined two under par, five ahead of St Kierans College Kilkenny but with a further three teams within eight shots of the lead it was still any of the Top 5’s to win over the second 18. The St Brendans side kept it steady adding in a further one under par combined to finish the tournament on a combined three under. McCarthy with four under, Nathan Cronin on three under and Ben Kelliher on three over par brought that total together as it was the latter’s score that was to be the decisive factor in the final outcome.

Castlepollard matched them in terms of the first two scores, Billy Buckley shooting six under par (best individual score of the day) and Tadhg Burns one under but 12 over for Callum Burns meant that they had to settle for five over par overall and second place in the end. 2022 and 2023 winners for the Sem Robbie Harnett (three over) and Fintan Martin (two over) combined with Ronan Bennett (two over) this year to finish third overall a further two shots back on 331 as for the first time in the competition’s national history two teams from the same school finished inside the top three. The school had already made history by qualifying five teams from the provincial finals into the national decider.

CKW Regional Board schools St Kierans and Presentation De La Salle A both had to settle for joint fourth after finishing on 332 as St Francis College of Rochestown were sixth on a score of 333 one ahead of Ardscoil Chiaran Naofa of Clara on 334 for whom Brian Buckley had an impressive score of five under par in the conditions.

Overall, those in the U16 Bracket will have benefitted from a first competitive look at the Clonmel track this year ahead of the National U16 Strokeplay and Inter-County Championships there this August.

Credit to the club for the condition of the course on the day given the torrential and monsoon like rain that fell in the area the previous day.

                                   Stats on Secondary schools National finals and Tournament facts and figures 

                                                                          By John Manning

St. Brendan's College, Killarney become the first school to win three All Ireland Schools’ Pitch and Putt tournaments in a row.

With the ‘Sem’s’ B team winning and their A team claiming third, for the first time ever, two teams from the same school occupied two podium positions in the same year.

St. Brendan’s College, Killarney are the third school in history to claim third place a year after winning the event.

Robbie Harnett and Fintan Martin join Ian O’Donoghue and Shane LIvesey (both CarrigalineCommunity College) along with Greg Barrett, Edward Walsh and Roy Whelan all of Davis College (Mallow)as players to have achieved the latter feat of third place a year after winning the event. .

The eight stroke margin enjoyed by St. Brendan's College, Killarney is the fifth highest winning margin in the tournament’s history, and the most comprehensive since St. Francis College, Rochestown triumphed by fifteen at Fermoy six years ago.

After Castlepollard Community College’sperformance at Hillview, a Westmeath school finished runners-up for second time.

Leinster champions Castlepollard Community College gave the eastern province a third set of silver medals in the event, bringing to an end a run of eight successive second places by Munster schools.

Munster’s run of consecutive victories now stands at nine.

St. Brendan’s College, Killarney become the third school to achieve third position for the second time (which ties the all-time record), joining Coláiste an Chraoibhín, Fermoy and ArdScoilChiaráinNaofa, Clara.

The spread of the St. Brendan's College, Killarney A team scores (one stroke) at Hillview is the lowest by any third-placed side in the history of the All Ireland Schools tournament.

St. Brendan's College, Killarney achieved a sixth podium finish in seven stagings, an all-time record. The Killarney institution is also the most consistent school in the event’s history with three wins, two seconds and two thirds, three podium finishes better than Davis College Mallow and Coláiste an Chraoibhín, Fermoy.

Hillview becomes the venue most often used for the All Ireland Schools’ final. The Clonmel layout has now hosted on three occasions (2011, 2022 and 2024) while Tullamore and Lakeside have hosted twice each.

The 2024 winning, runner-up and third-place scores are respectively the highest of the three stagings at Hillview.

NB – the tournament was not played in 2016, 2020 or 2021.

                                         All Ireland Schools Tournament Facts and Figures

Most successful school: Davis College Mallow, winners in 2013, 2015, 2017, St. Brendan's College, Killarney, winners in 2022, 2023 and 2024

Most successful individuals: Greg Barrett, Edward Walsh and Roy Whelan, who featured on the three winning Davis College teams.

Low winning aggregate:  Coláiste an Chraoibhín, Fermoy with 294 at Hillview in 2011.

Low individual aggregate: Greg Barrett (Davis College Mallow) with 91 at Fermoy in 2018.

High winning aggregate: Davis College Mallowwith 337 at Tullamore in 2017.

High winning margin: St. Francis College, Rochestown, 15 strokes at Fermoy in 2018. 

Low winning margin: Davis College Mallow, one stroke at Tullamore in 2017, St. Brendan’s College, Killarney, one stroke at Hillview in 2022.

Most runners-up spots: St. Brendan's College, Killarney, second in 2015 and in 2018; ColáisteChríost Rí, Cork, second in 2011 and in 2014, Coláiste an Chraoibhín, Fermoy, second in 2013 and in 2022, St. Francis College, Rochestown, second in 2019 and in 2023

Two Top Two Places in a row: Davis College, Mallow (winners in 2015 and in 2017 – event was not played in 2016), St. Francis College, Rochestown (winners in 2018 and runners-up in 2019), St. Brendan’s College, Killarney (winners in 2022 and in 2023).

Four Top Three Places in a row: Davis College, Mallow (winners in 2013, 2015 and in 2017 – event was not played in 2016 - and third in 2014).

Two Top Three Places in a row: St. Mary’s Diocesan School, Drogheda (third in 2011 and winners in 2012), Carrigaline Community School (winners in 2014 and third in 2015), Coláiste an Chraoibhín, Fermoy (third in 2017 and in 2018), St. Francis College, Rochestown (winners in 2018 and runners-up in 2019),  Ard Scoil Chiaráin Naofa, Clara (third in 2022 and third in 2023).

Four podium finishes in three stagings:  St. Brendan's College, Killarney

Venue most often used:  Hillview (2011, 2022, 2024), three.

Winner distribution by county: Cork – 6, Kerry – 3, Westmeath – 1, Louth – 1, Limerick – 1.

Runner-up distribution by county: Cork – 7, Kerry – 2, Westmeath – 2, Louth – 1.

Third place distribution by county: Cork – 4, Kerry – 2, Offaly – 1, Dublin – 1, Carlow – 1, Westmeath – 1, Louth – 1.