Thirty-five years after becoming Laois' first - and to date only - hurling All-Star, Pat Critchley is still breaking new ground.

On Wednesday night, he managed IT Carlow to a maiden Electric Ireland Sigerson Cup final appearance, secured thanks to a nailbiting 2-09 to 1-09 win over Michael Murphy's Letterkenny IT.

Earlier in the afternoon, Critchley had coached Scoil Chríost Rí, the Portlaoise girls school where he taught PE for 32 years, to their first All-Ireland U19 'A' basketball title.

Carlow IT had led by four points late on before a goal from Caoimhin Marley raised the prospect of extra-time in Inniskeen. However, Carlow worked their way back up the field and Kildare U20 forward Adam Steed finished to the net to seal a historic final spot.

Speaking to HE GAA after the victory, Critchley said: "I'm delighted for the lads. They're a great bunch and we're having a great run of it.

"They have great spirit about them, great character about them. We were four points up when that goal went in but they just keep going to the final whistle and we just about got over the line.

"We played some super football to get to tonight. I think we can play better than we did tonight, close to a first ever Sigerson we forced it a bit, but we got to grips with it after half-time."

Carlow beat three-time winners Tralee and reigning champions UCC on their way to the last four, digging deep to close out both games.

"When the draw came out, we had a very tough draw with Tralee IT away first, and then UCC," said Critchley.

"Down in Tralee we were six points down with 14 minutes to go and kept going. We were eight points up against UCC, they brought it back level with 10 minutes to go and we went on and won it again.

"We got a bad beating last year in the quarter-finals down in UCC but the guys have been playing really well and trained really well. 

Carlow IT has invested significantly in sport in recent years and their hurlers also reached a first Fitzgibbon Cup in 2017.

In next week's Sigerson final, Critchley's students will face another college that has become synonymous with sporting achievement of late - four-time winners DCU, who thrashed UCD 1-15 to 0-03 in the other semi-final.

"We'll probably be underdogs again," he admitted. "We were underdogs for the first two games and will be underdogs again next Wednesday with DCU. 

"But it's fantastic to be there and to be preparing for it. There's a great buzz around the college, a great buzz with the lads and we're really looking forward to it. 

"We're there now and we're going to give it a right good crack."