Borris-Ileigh's Johnny Kelly gracious in defeat
By John Harrington
Borris-Ileigh manager Johnny Kelly paid tribute to conquerors Ballyhale Shamrocks after today’s hard-fought AIB All-Ireland Club SHC Final in Croke Park.
His team had battled manfully throughout, but they just weren’t quite good enough to find a way to beat a seriously classy Ballyhale outfit.
“Ah sure we're disappointed obviously, after losing an All-Ireland final there are no easy words,” said Kelly. “But you have to actually give credit to Ballyhale.
“They're an exceptional club first of all and the fact that they've just achieved their eighth All-Ireland final (win), I mean the mind boggles when you think of what they've achieved.
“All I can really add is my heartfelt congratulations to Michael Fennelly and all the Ballyhale guys.
“It's bitter disappointment for Borris-Ileigh, a small club that's had a meteoric rise in the last two years. I hope that they gave some value for money over the last number of weeks and again today.”
Borris-Ileigh lacked little bit of composure in the opposition half of the field, and in the final analysis paid the price for some poor wides and far too many attempted shots that fell short.
“At the end of the day it wasn't so much the wide count or the free count, it was those efforts that dropped short or maybe taken from long distance,” admitted Kelly. “On the flip-side Ballyhale were so efficient, probably had a few wides but really were very clinical on the ball and finished well. It's an area that did cost us.”
Ballyhale were that bit sharper both in terms of their stick-work and their ability to create and exploit space by playing to the full width of the pitch.
The intelligent movement of TJ Reid, Patrick Mullen, Evan Shefflin and Adrian Mullen in particular saw them get on the end of attacking moves with increasing frequency and finished with a combined tally of 10 points from play.
“We were working really hard to shut down that like but Croke Park is such a wide field, it’s very easy to say, ‘Shut that down guys and get across’ but the reality is, when you’re out there, you’ve a lot of space to deal with and these guys, you know, are quality hurlers and will pick out positions and find each other with the ball,” said Kelly.
“One of the things in how that experience manifests itself in Croke Park is the ability look up and find a player across the field and Ballyhale did that on a number of occasions today where in a similar situation with us, we were going down maybe a couple of blind alleys and it didn’t work out but, again, that comes with experience.”
Ballyhale posed a variety of attacking threats but Borris-Ileigh were heavily dependent on the sensational Jerry Kelly who scored seven points, six from play and a sublime sideline cut.
“Jerry has been very good for us all year, a young fella, 20 years of age, very strong,” said Kelly.
“He comes from a great hurling family and a great pedigree, he put in a great shift for us, particularly in the first-half.
“We probably needed more at different stages from certain players but to their eternal credit that's their first run out for club players in an All-Ireland final. I think the day didn't get to them.
“They performed heroically and I can't compliment them enough.”