Kilkenny captain, Colin Fennelly, was the star attraction as Ballyhale Shamrocks confirmed their county final dominance over Dicksboro in this opening round clash, 4-13 to 2-10, in the senior hurling league.
Fennelly tormented the losers during the first half when he shot three delightful points from long distance as wind assisted Shamrocks build up a good lead. And he took his final bow in style in Hugginstown on Sunday when wrapping up victory with a super strike for a goal in the 57th minute on his way to taking his personal tally to 1-5 from play.
Made look ordinary
The ’Boro were made look very ordinary at times by a team that used their experience well. Shamrocks won most of their first half puck-outs on the opposing ‘40’ and they regularly carved open the opposing defence; doing so three times for goals as they put together an impressive interval lead of 3-7 to 1-7.
The losers were caught for a goal after only 90 seconds when Colin Fennelly engineered an opening for Mark Aylward to score at the village end. Dicksboro hit back for a goal from Shane Maher, and during most of the quarter they went step for step with the opposition, sharing parity three times.
In the 16th minute Michael Fennelly, who started at centre-forward, struck with authority for a second goal after a piece of wonderfully inventive play by Richard Reid, having won a huge puck-out from steady ’keeper, Patrick Mullen.
Shamrocks were back in front, and there they stayed to the finish. For their third goal in the 24th minute the ’Boro defence was laid bare by a hand-pass across goal from the left by Colin Fennelly, which left Eoin Reid with a simple, unchallenged tap in from the edge of the square.
The winners opened the second half with points from Eoin Reid (free), following a foul on Colin Fennelly, before the latter delighted again with a pop over point after losing his marker with a beautiful side step.
At their ease
The Shamrocks looked at their ease as the divide went out to 3-11 to 1-9 by the 45th minute. The losers were over reliant on midfielder Cillian Buckley to make things happen, and while he did well, a rescue mission was beyond any individual.
The ’Boro did spark a bit of life into affairs when Ollie Walsh rifled home a bullet of a shot from a bad angle on the left, and then Martin Gaffney pointed (3-11 to 2-10).
Up pops Fennelly again
Up popped that man Fennelly again, Colin, of course, to draw a foul that earned a minor for another sharp operator, Eoin Reid.
The next score was Colin Fennelly’s goal, a whistling shot from 20 metres. The deal was signed and sealed by the outstanding performer on the day.
Scorers: Ballyhale Shamrocks – Colin Fennelly (1-5); Eoin Reid (1-4, two points frees); Mark Aylward (1-2); Michael Fennelly (1-1); James ‘Cha’ Fitzpatrick (0-1). Dicksboro – Martin Gaffney (0-4, frees); Shane Maher (1-1); Cillian Buckley (0-3); Ollie Walsh (1-0); Kevin Kenny, Eoin Fennelly (0-1 each).
Ballyhale Shamrocks – Patrick Mullen, Paul Shefflin, Michael Dermody, Alan Cuddihy, Gavin Butler, Joseph Holden, Bob Aylward, James ‘Cha’ Fitzpatrick, David Hoyne, Richard Reid, Michael Fennelly, Brian Cody, Eoin Reid, Colin Fennelly, Mark Aylward. Subs – Ronan Corcoran, Conor Walsh, Eoin Doyle.
Dicksboro – Aaron Duggan, Kieran Cuddihy, Danny Kenny, Enda Malone, Michael Fagan, David Glynn, Conor O’Loughlin, Cillian Buckley, Cillian Starr, Tom Manning, Martin Gaffney, Ollie Walsh, Kevin Kenny, Shane Maher, Paul O’Flynn. Subs – Eoin Fennelly, Stephen Farrell, Evan Cody, Kevin Nolan.
Referee – Eddie Crowley (Mooncoin).