AIB SHC semi-final: Ballyhale Shamrocks battle past Ballygunner
AIB All-Ireland Club SHC semi-final
Ballyhale Shamrocks (Kilkenny) 1-15 Ballygunner (Waterford) 0-13
By John Fallon at Semple Stadium
Ballyhale Shamrocks, the most prolific winners of the All-Ireland club hurling title, are through to their eighth decider after seeing off the challenge of Waterford champions Ballygunner in front of a crowd of 3,944 at Semple Stadium.
The Kilkenny champions, who will now meet St Thomas' of Galway in the AIB All-Ireland final on St Patrick’s, came good in the second-half of this contest.
Ballygunner never trailed during the opening half and Pauric Mahony’s seventh point in injury-time gave them a 0-8 to 0-7 interval lead.
An early exchange of frees between Pauric Mahony and TJ Reid was followed by three in a row from Mahony, two of them from frees and another from a 65.
Both defences were on top on a cold and damp evening in Thurles and the opening point from play didn’t come until the 14thminute when TJ Reid pointed from the left wing.
Points from Evan Shefflin and TJ Reid levelled the sides at 0-4 apiece after 20 minutes before Pauric Mahony and Adrian Mullen swapped points.
Ballyhale, who lost corner-back Brian Butler to a leg injury, were unable to get in front and the Waterford champions pulled two clear again with another free from Mahony and their first point from play after 26 minutes from Brian O’Sullivan.
Eoin Cody and Eoid Reid hit back for the Kilkenny champions to tie the match but Ballygunner went in leading by a point when Mahony landed another free from 65 metres to edge them 0-8 to 0-7 in front.
Points from Eoin Cody and another free from Reid edged Ballyhale in front for the first time inside two minutes of the restart before Mahony’s eighth point levelled the sides for sixth time in the contest after 34 minutes.
It took some frantic Ballyhale defending to prevent Conor Power and Brian O’Sullivan getting in for the opening goal, but a fine point from Peter Hogan restored their lead.
Ballyhale hit back for Eoin Reid to level and then Eoin Cody burst through for a goal to lead by 1-10 to 0-10 after 44 minutes.
The sides twice exchanged points before Eoin Cody put four between them six minutes from time and Ballyhale never looked like relinquishing the lead after that as they set up an All-Ireland final meeting with St Thomas.
Scorers for Ballyhale Shamrocks: Eoin Cody 1-4, TJ Reid 0-4 (3f), Eoin Reid 0-2, Adrian Mullen 0-2, Patrick Mullen 0-2, Evan Shefflin 0-1.
Scorers for Ballygunner: Pauric Mahony 0-10 (7f, 1 ’65), Brian O’Sullivan 0-2, Peter Hogan 0-1.
BALLYHALE SHAMROCKS: Dean Mason; Darren Mullen, Joey Holden, Brian Butler; Evan Shefflin, Michael Fennelly, Richie Reid; Ronan Corcoran, Patrick Mullen; Adrian Mullen, T.J. Reid, Brian Cody; Eoin Reid, Colin Fennelly, Eoin Cody.
Subs: Conor Phelan for Brian Butler (13), Mark Aylward for Brian Cody (31), Conor Walsh for Phelan (53), Joseph Cuddihy for Eoin Reid (57), Gavin Butler for Corcoran (63)
BALLYGUNNER: Stephen O’Keeffe; Eddie Hayden, Barry Coughlan, Ian Kenny; Wayne Hutchinson, Philip Mahony, Haley Barnes; Billy O’Keeffe, Shane O’Sullivan; Peter Hogan, Pauric Mahony, Mikey Mahony; Conor Power, Tim O’Sullivan, Brian O’Sullivan. Subs: David O’Sullivan for Hayden (31), Barry O’Sullivan for Tim O’Sullivan (45), JJ Hutchinson for Billy O’Keeffe (56).
Referee: Colm Lyons (Cork).