Ballyhale Shamrocks threatened to destroy at times, and then at different times they lived dangerously, but in the end they did did the business in style and won their 14th Kilkenny senior hurling championship title at Nowlan Park yesterday, winning by 0-16 to 0-12, writes John Knox.
Shamrocks were winning for the first time since 2009, the season they completed the four in-a-row. Early on they threatened to bury opponents Dicksboro. But after they harvested a mere one point from two first half penalties the city side was very much in the game at the break when tailed by 0-7 to 0-9.
Nearing the end of the match Shamrocks had a narrow escape when a Dicksboro effort for a goal came back into play off an upright at a time they
were under a bit of pressure. Dicksboro simply refused to give in, and the approach they employed all season of working, working, working paid rich dividends again as they made the Shamocks sweat to the final whistle.
In the end Shamrocks won and qualified for the Leinster club championship and an away date with Oulart-the-Ballagh (Wexford) on
“We had to pull out all the stops to win that one,” admitted Shamrocks selector, John Drennan. “Kilkenny championships are never easily won,
and this one certainly wasn’t easily won.”
Feared for ’Boro
The near 9,000 crowd must have feared for Dicksboro early on when they looked vulnerable and unsure at the back against the quick attacks of the
opposition. When they conceded penalties in the 19th and 27th minutes they showed their stubborn nature because they only concede one point from them.
Even after those near misses, plus a few more, Dicksboro were in the game at half-time when they trailed by 0-7 to 0-9.
“We thought at that time that maybe, just maybe, it might be our day,” suggested Dicksboro manager, Ger Henderson. “It the end Shamrocks were too good for us, and their vast experience was important.”
The winners opened with assurance and without pushing things too hard ran up early, unanswered points through Bob Aylward, Eoin Reid and
Henry Shefflin at the double from frees. Already the ’Boro had enjoyed a bit of luck in front of their goal when a chance for Eoin Reid was
snuffed out at the last second, and then Colin Fennelly and Eoin Reid failed to finish from close quarters.
The losers opened their account through Martin Gaffney (free) in the 10th minute, and thanks to additional scores from Ollie and Oisin
Walsh and Gaffney they sliced divide to the minimum by the 15th minute (0-5 to 0-4), somewhat against the run of play.
Shamrocks hit back
After Shamrocks hit back for a minor from Shefflin they won their first penalty in the 19th minute when the nine times All-Ireland medal
winner was hauled down. The shot was saved, but Mark Aylward turned the loose ball over the bar.
Dicksboro did even better against the second penalty call, again for a foul on Shefflin, when the county star’s well struck effort was beaten
back. It was hard to credit that Dicksboro were still in the match at the break, when they trailed by 0-7 to 0-9.
Shamrocks made good gains before the 40th minute, scores from Eoin Reid, James ‘Cha’ Fitzpatrick, Shefflin, Conor Walsh and Colin
Fennelly shooting them into their biggest lead of the match (0-14 to 0-8).
Again the ’Boro roared back, or rather, battled back. They literally worked their socks off, and with David Glynn, Robbie Fitzpatrick, Martin Gaffney and the two Walshs, Ollie and Oisin driving the cause took the game to the opposition.
Sharmocks got a real score in the 54th minute when an angled drive from Eddie O’Donoghue came back into play off the butt of a post
before Gaffney pointed to reduce the deficit to 0-11 to 0-15. That near miss was as good as it was to get for Dicksboro. Shamrocks held on for a well deserved victory.
Scorers: Shamrocks - H. Shefflin (0-5, frees); M. Aylward (0-4); E. Reid (0-2); B. Aylward (0-1, free); M. Fennelly, J. ‘Cha’ Fitzpatrick,
C. Walsh, C. Fennelly (0-1 each). Dicksboro - M. Gaffney (0-8, frees); Oisin Walsh, Ollie Walsh, P. O’Flynn, E. O’Donoghue (0-1 each).
Ballyhale Shamrocks - R. Reid, P. Shefflin, A. Cummins, A. Cuddihy, M. Dermody, J. Holden, B. Aylward, E. Walsh, M. Fennelly, J. ‘Cha’
Fitzpartrick, H. Shefflin, M. Aylward, C. Walsh, C. Fennelly, E. Reid. Subs - P. Reid for C. Walsh 46th min; D. Hoyne for E. Reid 57th min.
Dicksboro - A. Duggan, K. Cuddihy, D. Kenny, E. Malone, M. Fagan, D. Glynn, R. Fitzpatrick, C. Buckley, J. Fagan, M. Gaffney, Oisin Walsh,
Ollie Walsh, K. Kenny, S. Maher, P. O’Flynn. Subs - E. O’Donoghue for K. Kenny (inj) 24th min; C. Starr for J. Fagan 39th min.
Referee - G. Quilty (Slieverue)