Ballyhale dig deep to deny Slaughtneil
AIB All Ireland Club Hurling Semi Final
BALLYHALE SHAMROCKS 2-24 SLAUGHTNEIL 2-19
By Dan Bannon at Pairc Esler
The beginning of a new decade had a familiar feel to it as Ballyhale Shamrocks reached their second successive All-Ireland Club Final. A well earned five point win over a dogged Slaughtneil side was just the tonic for start of the New Year.
Man of the match Colin Fennelly provided the gloss at the death with a trademark second goal at the end of powerful run. Fennelly showed tremendous balance to stay on his feet and land the killer blow. His first on the 19th minute was supplied by TJ Reid.
The goals came at exactly the right time as they both were in direct response to periods of Slaughtneil dominance. The affair began with a swift sense of an upset. Fumbles and nervy touches a plenty as the Derry men seized the reigning champions at every turn.
Jerome McGuigan powered them into the perfect 1-3 to 2 start with beautiful stroke off the deck, but TJ Reid as ever, settled Ballyhale down with the first of his 10 frees of the afternoon. The talisman also set up Fennelly for his opening goal.
The sides were level five times in the first half with Cormac O’Doherty proving just as effective from dead balls. The Slaughtneil sharpshooter would end the half with a inspirational score from distance to keep the underdogs in touch 1-11 to 1-10 down.
Sean O’Caiside had the sides level quickly upon the resumption but a combination of TJ Reid’s accuracy and Evan Shefflin's second point would open up a two point gap even O’Doherty couldn’t reel in.
Then a string of four unanswered points during the middle third of the second half was enough to shake the Ulster men off and, even at that, Slaughtneil came back with a Brendan Rogers goal that made the reigning champions work that little bit more till the very end.
Rogers goal was an excellent solo effort which he crafted singlehandedly. Grabbing the ball from his own puck out he ploughed down on the Ballyhale goal and finished with aplomb to leave the minimum between the sides with less than two minutes remaining.
Henry Shefflin’s nephew Evan responded with his third point and TJ soon followed up with another free as they wouldn’t allow Slaughtneil to build on the goal. Brian Cassidy did land his third but Fennelly powered home and they now await an earlier than normal All-Ireland final date.
Scorers for Ballyhale Shamrocks: TJ Reid 0-11 (10f), Colin Fennelly 2-1, Brian Cody 0-3, Evan Shefflin 0-3, Eoin Cody 0-2, Ronan Corcoran 0-2, Patrick Mullen 0-1, Eoin Reid 0-1.
Scorers for Slaughtneil: Cormac O’Doherty 0-9 (9f), Brendan Rogers 1-2, Brian Cassidy 0-3 Jerome McGuigan 1-0, Christopher McKaigue 0-2, Se McGuigan 0-1 Meehaul McGrath 0-1, Sean O’Caiside 0-1.
BALLYHALE SHAMROCKS: Dean Mason; Darren Mullen, Joey Holden, Darragh Corcoran; Evan Shefflin, Michael Fennelly, Richie Reid; Ronan Corcoran, Conor Walsh; Brian Cody, TJ Reid, Adrian Mullen; Eoin Reid, Colin Fennelly, Eoin Cody. Subs: Patrick Mullen for Walsh (h-t), Mark Aylward for B Cody (58), Joseph Cuddihy for E Cody (62)
SLAUGHTNEIL: Oisin O’Doherty; Se Cassidy, Sean O’Caiside, Cormac McKenna; Meehaul McGrath, Shane McGuigan, Karl McKaigue; Gerald Bradley, Christopher McKaigue; Brian Cassidy, Cormac O’Doherty, Mark McGuigan; Sé McGuigan, Jerome McGuigan, Brendan Rogers. Subs: Conor McAllister for O’Caiside (49).
Referee: Fergal Horgan (Tipperary)