The form guide went as expected when Dicksboro made the minor hurling A semi-finals, beating Ballyhale Shamrocks by three points at Grennan on Saturday afternoon.
However, the underdogs fought all the way and twice battled back to touching distance from significant deficit. While the better team won, the possibility of an upset hovered. This Ballyhale Shamrocks squad, under-16 B champions in 2011, will rue missing frees and spurning two goal chances in the first half.
Dicksboro, the under-16 A champions in 2011, raced out into an 0-6 to 0-0 lead on 10 minutes when the unerring Andrew Gaffney converted his third free.
Once Ronan Corcoran’s 14th minute free went over, the Shamrocks ship steadied. Two more dead balls from Corcoran and another from Joe Cuddihy left it 0-6 to 0-4 on 20 minutes.
A Gaffney brace and Jamie Byrne extended Dicksboro’s lead once more, but the Shamrocks struck back via Corcoran and James Deasy. That run put a better complexion on the scoreboard at half-time, by which stage they trailed by 0-9 to 0-7.
The leaders moved into a commanding position on restart. Three points from flying centre forward Stephen Farrell, augmented by Andrew Gaffney (free) and Jamie Byrne, meant it was double scores (0-14 to 0-7) after 36 minutes. The ’Boro, now aided by the fresh breeze, looked set for a skinning.
Ballyhale gritted their teeth. By the 57th minute, the margin was back to a puck of a ball (0-16 to 0-13). Shortly, though, Shane O’Brien swooped for a goal and Robbie Murphy for a point. The contest deflated.
Still defiant, the chasers kept going. John Hession goaled with a neat groundstroke. Patrick Mullen, at the death, clipped over a point. However, the long whistle went on the puck-out.
Dicksboro, that bit better, now meet the Rower-Inistioge.
Dicksboro - Darragh Holohan, Mark Slater, Dylan Scott, Jim Dollard, Thomas Carroll, Evan Cody, Conor Doheny, Corey Cahill (0-1), Robbie Fitzpatrick (0-1), Andrew Gaffney (0-8, 0-7 frees), Stephen Farrell (0-4), Patrick Cahill, Jamie Byrne (0-2), Kevin Kenny, Shane O’Brien (1-0). Subs: Robbie Murphy (0-1) for Jamie Byrne, 53 mins; Mark Cudmore for Thomas Carroll, 56 mins.
Ballyhale Shamrocks - Conor Reid, Patrick Doyle, Brian Butler, Conor Phelan, Darren Mullen, Kevin Mullen, Eugene Aylward, Ronan Corcoran (0-8, 0-7 frees), Tom O’Keeffe, Adrian Mullen (0-1), Joe Cuddihy (0-1, free), Dylan Aylward, Brian Cody (0-1), Patrick Mullen (0-2, 0-1 65), James Deasy (0-1). Subs: Mark Phelan for Kevin Mullen, 31 mins; Kevin Mullen for Mark Phelan, 34 mins; Mark Phelan for Dylan Aylward, 43 mins; John Hession (1-0) for Tom O’Keeffe, 47 mins; Sean Donnelly for Patrick Doyle, 60 mins.
Referee - Raymond Byrne (Glenmore).