AIB Club SHC Final: Shamrocks retain title
AIB All Ireland Club Senior Hurling Championship Final
BALLYHALE SHAMROCKS (KILKENNY) 0-18 BORRIS-ILEIGH (TIPPERARY) 0-15
By Cian O'Connell at Croke Park
Every AIB All Ireland Club title matters deeply to Ballyhale Shamrocks, but this success carried particular relevance.
In the Shamrocks proud history back to back All Ireland crowns hadn’t been secured until this victory was carved out at GAA headquarters.
Henry Shefflin’s charges most certainly earned the triumph as Borris-Ileigh’s courage and commitment examined the holders’ resolve.
Ultimately, though, the Shamrocks had an extra drop of class and were able to adequately contain Borris-Ileigh, who battled until the end.
There so was so much to admire about the way Borris-Ileigh embraced this daunting challenge, but Shamrocks survived the tricky test.
It was a curious first half because Borris-Ileigh’s passion and purpose couldn’t be faulted, but they still trailed by four at the turnaround.
That was chiefly due to the cool composure of the standard bearers, who dealt with the underdogs snappy start in impressive fashion.
With Jerry Kelly mining five opening period points Borris-Ileigh weren’t short on inspiration, but the Shamrocks remain a defiant and daring outfit.
Prompted by Kelly’s majestic finishing Borris-Ileigh led by 0-4 to 0-1 by the 13th minute before Ballyhale came thundering back.
Six of the next seven points were struck by Ballyhale with Patrick Mullen outstanding at centrefield with TJ Reid and Colin Fennelly also contributing in attack.
Borris-Ileigh again dropped Dan McCormack deep to assist the splendid Brendan Maher, but Ballyhale just had sufficient guile to cope.
Kelly’s 24th minute effort narrowed the gap to the minimum, but the Shamrocks responded as Eoin Reid, Mullen, and Reid clipped points to ensure they went in protecting a 0-10 to 0-6 advantage.
When the action recommenced Ballyhale were doing enough to hold a reasonable cushion with cute Adrian Mullen and Evan Shefflin scores putting them six clear with eight minutes remaining, 0-16 to 0-10.
Then Borri-Ileigh summoned a gutsy rally as Brendan Maher (2) and Kelly (2) trimmed the deficit down to two.
Reid replied with a couple of crafty points to seal the deal as Borris-Ileigh were unable to net the goal that was required.
Ballyhale Shamrocks’ white and green flag remains perched on the club hurling summit.
Scorers for Ballyhale Shamrocks: TJ Reid 0-8 (5fs), Patrick Mullen 0-3, Adrian Mullen, Evan Shefflin, and Eoin Reid 0-2 each, Colin Fennelly 0-1.
Scorers for Borris-Ileigh: Jerry Kelly 0-7 (1 sideline), Brendan Maher 0-6 (4fs), Tommy Ryan and Kevin Maher 0-1 each.
BALLYHALE SHAMROCKS: Dean Mason; Darragh Corcoran, Joey Holden, Darren Mullen; Evan Shefflin, Michael Fennelly, Richie Reid; Ronan Corcoran, Patrick Mullen; Adrian Mullen, TJ Reid, Brian Cody; Eoin Reid, Colin Fennelly, Eoin Cody.
Subs: Joseph Cuddihy for R Corcoran (47), Mark Aylward for E Reid (54), Conor Walsh for P Mullen (60).
BORRIS-ILEIGH: James McCormack; Seamus Burke, Paddy Stapleton, Liam Ryan; Sean McCormack, Brendan Maher, Ray McCormack; Tommy Ryan, Dan McCormack; Kieran Maher, Jerry Kelly, Conor Kenny; Kevin Maher, James Devaney, Niall Kenny.
Subs: Jack Hogan for Kieran Maher (47), Ciaran Cowan for Ryan (53), Matthew Stapleton for N Kenny (54).
REFEREE: Colm Lyons (Cork).