AIB All Ireland Club SHC Final: Ballyhale Shamrocks triumph
AIB All Ireland Club SFC Final
BALLYHALE SHAMROCKS (KILKENNY) 2-28 ST THOMAS (GALWAY) 2-11
By Cian O'Connell at Croke Park
Ballyhale Shamrocks, the most decorated hurling club of the lot, provided a reminder of their rich talent and tradition when securing a seventh All Ireland title.
The decorated Kilkenny and Leinster champions absorbed everything a gutsy St Thomas team could muster to return to the summit.
There was so much to admire about how Ballyhale, who had 10 different scorers, performed with Colin Fennelly’s 2-4 haul and Adrian Mullen’s five point contribution carrying significant weight.
The first half was a real lesson in Ballyhale efficiency as the accomplished Kilkenny outfit struck 2-10 from 15 shots.
That told the tale because St Thomas’ squandered decent chances throughout as proven by their 1-8 from 17 efforts.
Ultimately it meant Henry Shefflin’s charges went in at the interval content armed with a five point cushion chiefly due to Colin Fennelly’s brace of opportunistic goals.
Fennelly’s first major arrived in the fifth minute when bundling the sliotar over the line at the second attempt following Gerald Murray’s initial save.
Thomas’ response was loaded with courage, though, and they were boosted by a 12th minute goal from a blistering Conor Cooney penalty.
Darren Mullen’s foul on Damien McGlynn enabled Cooney to rattle the Shamrocks net and suddenly Thomas’ were injected with a drop of confidence.
Adrian Mullen and TJ Reid did extend Ballyhale’s advantage to three, but Thomas’ remained plucky and were back trading on terms by the 20th minute.
Darragh Burke’s free was followed by sweet points from play by McGlynn and James Regan as the Galway standard bearers levelled at 1-6 each.
Fennelly returned to centre stage batting a point before flicking a delightful second goal in the 22nd minute following an Adrian Mullen delivery.
That smart Ballyhale burst was sufficient to ensure they led by 2-10 to 1-8 at the turnaround so Thomas were under duress to rally once more.
Immediately after the restart Darragh Burke narrowed the deficit, but Ballyhale weren’t overly concerned reeling off six points on the spin.
Eoin Cody, TJ Reid, Patrick Mullen (2), Brian Cody, and the potent Colin Fennelly all contributed during this Ballyhale spell and Thomas’ just couldn’t recover.
Mullen and Fennelly continued to supply scores in the closing stages as Ballyhale cruised to an emphatic triumph at GAA headquarters.
Late on Darragh Burke appeared to get the last touch in a crowded goalmouth for a Thomas’ major, but sufficient Ballyhale damage had been inflicted.
Scorers for Ballyhale Shamrocks: Colin Fennelly 2-4, TJ Reid 0-9 (5fs), Adrian Mullen 0-5, Eoin Cody, Patrick Mullen, and Brian Cody 0-2 each, Evan Shefflin, Ronan Corcoran, Mark Aylward, and Richie Reid 0-1 each.
Scorers for St Thomas: Darragh Burke 1-7 (6fs), Conor Cooney 1-0 (pen), Damien McGlynn, James Regan, Bernard Burke, and Brendan Farrell 0-1 each.
BALLYHALE SHAMROCKS: Dean Mason; Darren Mullen, Joey Holden, Brian Butler; Evan Shefflin, Michael Fennelly, Richie Reid; Ronan Corcoran, Patrick Mullen; Adrian Mullen, TJ Reid, Brian Cody; Eoin Reid, Colin Fennelly, Eoin Cody.
Subs: Mark Aylward for E Reid (42), Conor Walsh for Corcoran (55), Kevin Mullen for D Mullen (58), Joseph Cuddihy for E Cody (58), Gavin Butler for M Fennelly (59).
ST THOMAS: Gerald Murray; Cian Mahoney, Cathal Burke, Sean Skehill; Donal Cooney, Shane Cooney, Fintan Burke; James Regan, David Burke; Darragh Burke, Conor Cooney, David Sherry; Bernard Burke, Brendan Farrell, Damien McGlynn.
Subs: Mark Caulfield for F Burke (42), Colin Fallon for Regan (52), Cian Kelly for Sherry (56), Damien Finnerty for McGlynn (59).
REFEREE: Fergal Horgan (Tipperary).