Brave, brave Carrickshock were like dragon slayers. They took on a mighty beast that had given them constant grief, and they triumphed.
And now on Sunday week on their next visit to Nowlan Park they have the chance to win what would be their first Kilkenny senior hurling title since 1951. Great times for the club! A great challenge awaits!
Beating gritty champions, Ballyhale Shamrocks in this senior hurling semi-final was a huge achievement. It was Carrickshock’s first time to triumph over a gifted crew in knock-out competition since they returned to the top flight.
“You have to be a fair bit better than Shamrocks to be able to beat them,” suggested Carrickshock manager, Maurice Power after the dust had settled on a gripping contest. “They have so many players who can hurt you, and they can come back from the dead when you think you have them beaten.
“They did it two or three times during this match. It is the first time we have beaten them in championship hurling since we got back senior. It was a big achievement for us, but we have nothing won.
“There is no use winning a semi-final unless you can follow it up with a victory. We were in the final three years ago. We didn’t perform. We know the pain of losing. We will really focus on this one, and hopefully we can do it.
“We came back at vital times ourselves to get big scores. The goal by Niall Rohan in the end topped off a great effort. We were hanging on at that stage. We are delighted, but there will be no celebrations in our parish this week.
“The return of Michael Rice, and the fact that John Tennyson played was massive for us. They were colossal performers. John Tennyson - he put out his shoulder in the quarter-final - was just an animal to play in that game. He is in agony in the dressing-room. He was in constant pain throughout the hour. No other player would do what he did. He did it for the colours, for the parish.”
Yes, the game was there to be rescued by hard chasing Shamrocks until sub Niall Rohan swooped for the sixth goal of the match in the 62nd minute. And it was some score. Michael Rohan, a superb performer from start to finish, lashed in a huge ball from the left wing towards the country end goal.
The ‘Niall’ man grabbed the sliotar from the air in spectacular style. He made space and then drilled the ball low into the net. Such a quality score was the finest of ways for Carrickshock to sign off on a wonderful win.
The Shamrocks may not be the force they were, but they don’t know what it is to surrender. The winners had to perform, and one means perform big. Michael Rice, back after a long absence, was magnificent in terms of effort, effectiveness and the leadership he showed. He was sharper than anyone had a right to expect. We know now from Mr Power’s revelations what John Tennyson did for the cause.
His brother, Pat Tennyson, was another massive contributed to the cause. And then there was John Power, scorer of a peach of a goal in the first half; two magnificent points and there was more besides. Richie Power, whose role of attack leader often extended to duties on his own ‘20’ and closer to home, was there to stir the spirits when they appeared to flag. He was powerful. John Dalton and Jamie Power got through some great hurling too.
The Shamrocks took a bit of a pasting early on. They shot one score by T.J. Reid against six to the opposition during the opening eight minutes. Rice’s signiture was already all over the game. He was buzzing; winning ball, picking up ball, delivering ball.
Henry - Shefflin that is - put his name on things too. A goal he made for Colin Fennelly (13th minute) was followed by a great point from midfield and an assist of pure vision for a Michael Dermody score.
With Henry pulling the strings from afar, and Colin Fennelly as elusive as an eel in wet grass in front of goal, the losers got the arrears back to a brace. At half-time they were slightly worse off, being 1-7 to 1-10 behind.
There had been misses at both end. Mark Aylward was crowded out at one end. John Power was in space at the other but missed an attempted catch with the goal at his mercy. He made amends, shooting a predators goal in the 27th minute (1-9 to 1-5).
He got a straight run at the target. Aware that the ’keeper was advancing, he lifted the ball in a arc into the top right corner of the net. There was class written all over the finish.
The second half was uphill all the way for the champs. They might have faded after Brian Donovan netted in the 41st minute, booting the ball to the net after taking a delivery from John Murphy (2-12 to 1-10). John Power added great point from 50 metres to double the hurt.
Shamrocks didn’t buckle. Even after Michael Rohan turned a ball from Michael Rice into the net (3-13 to 1-11) in the 46th minute - the score was only awarded after the ref spoke to his umpires - Shamrocks drove on. A lovely goal from T.J. Reid in the 56th minute (3-14 to 2-13) followed by a point from Shefflin threw open the contest.
Mr Rohan then turned ‘Roy of the Rover’. Typical of a scorcher of a game!
Scorers: Carrickshock - Michael Rohan, John Power (1-3 each); Richie Power (0-4, two frees); Brian Donovan, Niall Rohan (1-0 each); Michael Rice (0-2); John Cahill, Mark O’Dwyer (0-1 each). Ballyhale Shamraocks - Henry Shefflin (0-6, four frees, one 65); Colin Fennelly (1-2); T.J. Reid (1-2, point free); Michael Dermody, James ‘Cha’ Fitzpatrick, David Hoyne, Mark Aylward (0-1 each).
Carrickshock - John Butler, John Murphy, John Dalton, David Franks, John Cahill, John Tennyson, Pat Tennyson, Paddy Mulcahy, Michael Rice, Jamie Power, Richie Power, John Power, Michael Rohan, Mark O’Dwyer, Brian Donovan. Subs - Damien Walsh for P. Mulcahy 47th min; Niall Rohan for M. O’Dwyer 58th min.
Ballyhale Shamrocks - Patrick Reid, Paul Shefflin, Aidan Cummins, Alan Cuddihy, Michael Dermody, Joseph Holden, Robert Aylward, James ‘Cha’ Fitzpatrick, T.J. Reid, Richard Reid, Henry Shefflin, David Hoyne, Eoin Reid, Colin Fennelly, Mark Aylward. Subs - Tom Coogan for P. Shefflin ht; Conor Walsha for E. Reid 41st min; Ronan Corcoran for D. Hoyne 53rd min.
Referee - Paddy Neary (James Stephens).
Attendance - 6,795.