BALLYHALE bounced their way back into senior football, thanks to a five-point triumph over St Patrick’s (Ballyragget) in the intermediate county final.
The junior champions of 2012, jointly managed this season by Tom Coogan and Liam Grant, were good value for immediate success in this final at John’s Park on Saturday. They had taken all five of this Spring’s league ties, a run that included a 14-point win over the same opposition.
Last weekend, the Shamrocks enjoyed the majority of possession. That said, with six minutes left, another story was gathering ink. St Patrick’s left but a kick of a ball in it, 2-10 to 2-7, after John Holland slotted his fourth point from play.
The chasing side, on top in the middle third for the previous ten minutes, were coming strong.
Ballyhale had looked comfortable when Eoin Reid goaled in the 36th minute, following great work by Alan Cuddihy and Enda Fitzpatrick. Reid’s neat finish made it 2-8 to 1-2 and set an obvious script.
Ballyragget, much to their credit, ripped it up. The required boost arrived when substitute Anthony Butler netted on 39 minutes after a free dropped in around the square.
Over the next quarter of an hour, St Patrick’s proceeded to kick five excellent points. Ballyhale were on notice.
The contest boiled for six minutes, swaying to and fro, as the afternoon stayed bitterly cold. Eventually, the leaders broke downfield in added time and gained two terrific points via Conor Walsh and sterling centre-back Michael Dermody.
The Shamrocks were ahead 1-6 to 1-2 at the break. David Hoyne’s clinical free-taking proved the gap, after a fortuitous goal for Conor Walsh on 11 minutes had been matched by Alan Ruth shortly before half-time.
The second half rose in entertainment. Thankfully, Eoin Reid’s goal was the start of something, not a premature end.
St Patrick’s came with their late drive, prodding Ballyhale Shamrocks for a response. That press on the pedal was there, sending the evergreen Bob Aylward to receive the trophy on the club’s behalf.
For the champions, Keith Murphy generally kept a solid goal while the backs performed well as a unit. Joe Holden and David Hoyne were a capable midfield partnership, while each of the forwards offered incisive moments over the hour, with Brian Cody’s elegant brace of points a highlight.
St Patrick’s, spirited to the end, contributed mightily to a decider of decent standard. At the back, they were well marshalled by the defensive spine of Michael Stapleton and Geoff Morrissey.
Seán Mooney and Barry Staunton formed a doughty and competitive midfield. Up front, where they faced a resolute sextet, John Holland fared best.
SCORERS: Shamrocks - Conor Walsh (1-2); David Hoyne (0-4, frees); Eoin Reid (1-0); Brian Cody (0-2); Gavin Butler, Michael Dermody, Joe Holden, Keith Nolan (0-1 each). St Patrick’s - John Holland (0-4); Alan Ruth, Anthony Butler (1-0 each); Michael Gannon (0-1); Sean Mooney (0-1, free); J.J. O’Sullivan (0-1, 45).
Shamrocks - K. Murphy, P. Shefflin, B. Aylward, K. Grace, G. Butler, M. Dermody, W. Coogan, J. Holden, D. Hoyne, A. Cuddihy, E. Reid, K. Nolan, B. Cody, C. Walsh, E. Fitzpatrick.
St Patrick’s - J.J. O’Sullivan, J. Butler, M. Stapleton, D. Brophy, Bill Staunton, G. Morrissey, M. Gannon, S. Mooney, Barry Staunton, J. Holland, Jody Phelan, M. Staunton, John Phelan, A. Ruth, K. Fitzpatrick. Subs: A. Butler for John Phelan, 34 mins; Sean McGrath for Fitzpatrick, 57 mins.
Referee - P. Neary (James Stephens).