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Pat Hoban delighted with Shamrocks' success

Ballyhale Shamrocks manager Pat Hoban.

Ballyhale Shamrocks manager Pat Hoban.

By Cian O'Connell

"An incredible win," Ballyhale Shamrocks manager Pat Hoban reflected following Sunday's AIB All-Ireland Club SHC Final triumph over Dunloy Cúchulainns at Croke Park.

Last year's decider to defeat against Ballygunner hurt deeply, but Ballyhale's response was emphatic. Kilkenny, Leinster, and national titles have been gleaned.

"Nine All-Irelands," Hoban adds. "They’ve been unlucky in a couple of finals over the years as well so the character they’ve shown. It’s only February – it’s 12 months ago - it’s very easy to talk of getting back there. 

"How many teams have said that. But for these guys to actually do it just shows the character and their ability. An incredible group of players."

In the closing stages Dunloy narrowed the gap to a single point, but Ballyhale survived.

"To be fair to Dunloy, they really brought the battle," Hoban responds. "They got a great start. I think we found it hard to get our rhythm. We stuttered along at times. Dunloy were well set up as we knew they were. That was disappointing because we kept seeming to find their spare men.

"We knew they had pace up front to cause us problems. Coming down the home straight, it was a bit too scary. The final scoreline flattered Ballyhale a lot."

Dunloy's victory over St Thomas' underlined the Antrim outfit's ability.

"St Thomas’s probably did us a favour in that we saw what Dunloy were bringing, particularly how they were going to set up and their key players," Hoban states. 

"We set up to nullify that, and I think we did that. They did find gaps elsewhere, but we’d be happy that their so-called big scorers didn’t have as much as an influence on the game as the semi-final."

It has been an interesting adventure for Ballyhale following the cruel Ballygunner defeat.

"With the split season, a good number of these guys were involved with Kilkenny," Hoban says. "When we took over in April we were training for a few months with small numbers. But once the Kilkenny championship starts up, if ever there is a team that can move between the gears from league to championship it’s these guys. 

"They’ve been on the road so long, it’s very hard to keep up that level of intensity the whole time. But they have a switch. When they get focused, they are an incredible group of players. They know how to win matches and want to win matches."