A last gasp Michael Fennelly goal saw Ballyhale Shamrocks open their senior hurling league campaign in winning fashion, but victory wasn’t without its labours.
A game that seemed to be petering out into an easy enough win for Ballyhale suddenly turned against them when they were hit by Liam Ryan’s two-goal salvo for Clara at Nowlan Park on Sunday.
In an entertaining encounter, played before a small crowd, Ryan’s goals resurrected the Clara challenge and almost stunned the Ballyhale side into submission
The game began well for the Ballyhale side as points from T.J. Reid (2) and Henry Shefflin gave them a 0-3 to 0-0 lead after just five minutes of play. A foul on the Shefflin gave him a chance to increase the lead but he was off target.
David Prendergast hit Clara’s first point in the 10th minute before Shefflin made amends for his earlier miss, pointing a 65 in the 11th minute. Liam Ryan and Lester Ryan kept their side in touch with points as Clara upped their game - Shamrocks were lucky not to concede a goal when the sliotar was driven across the face of their goal in the 16th minute, but no-one in maroon was on hand to tap it home.
Ballyhale bounced back after that, Shefflin increasing their lead to two points with an 18th minute free, but Ciaran Prendergast negated that score inside a minute.
Austin Murphy was next to hit the mark, levelling matters before Keith Hogan gave Clara the lead for the first time with a 22nd minute point. A close battle swung back Ballyhale’s way thanks to two more Shefflin points, a lead that was increased when Colin Fennelly fired home a Shamrocks goal in the 28th minute. T.J. Reid followed that up with a point, but while Austin Murphy finished the first half scoring with a point Clara trailed by five at the break (1-8 to 0-7).
Although Clara began the second half in positive mood it was Shamrocks who got off the mark first with a Shefflin point. Colin Fennelly added another minor score, but the Shamrocks were living dangerously at the back as Clara proved when a stinging shot came back off a post. Mick Fennelly added another Shamrocks point, but Keith Hogan hit back with a similar effort for Clara.
By the 50th minute Shamrocks had established a six-point lead, but that all changed when, in the 52nd minute, Liam Ryan rifled home a goal to stun the Ballyhale boys. Ryan wasn’t finished. Straight from the puck-out, he won possession and buried anther goal - suddenly the sides were level (Clara 2-11, Shamrocks 1-14).
Ballyhale were stunned, but James ‘Cha’ Fitzpatrick settled their nerves somewhat with a point. Ciaran Prendergast replied for Clara, who crept in front again when James Nolan edged them into the lead. Shefflin and Nolan traded points, the latter seemingly enough to give his side the spoils, but in a last ditch assault Shamrocks found the wherewithal to conjure up a winning goal courtesy of Michael Fennelly.
SCORERS: Ballyhale Shamrocks - Henry Shefflin (0-8, 0-3 frees 0-1 65); Colin Fennelly, Michael Fennelly (1-1 each); T.J. Reid (0-3); James ‘Cha’ Fitzpatrick, Brian Cody, Mark Aylward (0-1). Clara - Liam Ryan (2-1); Keith Hogan (0-3, 0-2 frees); James Nolan, Ciaran Prendergast, Chris Bolger, Austin Murphy (0-2 each); David Prendergast, Lester Ryan (0-1 each).
Ballyhale Shamrocks - Richie Reid, Paul Shefflin, Aidan Cummins, Brian Butler, Alan Cuddihy, Joey Holden, Bob Aylward, Michael Fennelly, James ‘Cha’ Fitzpatrick, Eoin Reid, T.J. Reid, Mark Aylward, Ronan Corcoran, Colin Fennelly, Henry Shefflin. Subs: Brian Cody for R. Corcoran, Patrick Reid for E. Reid, David Hoyne for M. Aylward
Clara - Killian Phelan,Tom Ryan, Sean O’Shea, Conor O’Shea, Jack Langton, Shane Prendergast, David Langton, Lester Ryan, Brian O’Shea, Austin Murphy, David Prendergast, Liam Ryan, Keith Hogan, James Nolan, Ciaran Prendergast. Subs: Chris Bolger for B. O’Shea, Shane Cassin for D. Prendergast.
Ref - EamonnMansfield.