Ballyhale Shamrocks 3-15
WHAT A cracker!
If there was better value going on in any pitch last weekend than was laid before a tidy, fortunate audience by the warriors of Ballyhale Shamrocks and Tullaroan, I would dearly love to have witnessed it.
Saturday’s game in Dunnamaggin was full of every passion, skill and courage you could wish to see. The money would have been posted on the Ballyhale men for a comfortable win, but the Tullaroan team that turned up in Dunnamaggin on Saturday evening was something else.
Tullaroan are brave to a fault and play a game with such fervour, but they met a Shamrocks team that are truly masterful in the art of hurling, even if they were inconvenienced by shortages. James ‘Cha’ Fitzpatrick is overseas, Colin Fennelly did not play while the powerful Michael Fennelly came on to steady the ship after half-time.
Richie Maher opened the scoring for Tullaroan with two massive frees after two minutes, both from 90 metres. Henry Shefflin levelled matters inside the next two minutes. In a tit-for-tat fashion Chris Maher and T.J. Reid swapped points by the sixth minute, Shefflin and Walsh doing likewise by the 9th minute. Mark Walsh swapped another with Eamonn Walsh by the 11th minute.
It was horse-power stuff. The crowd loved every millisecond of it.
At the 19 minute mark, Tullaroan looked comfortable as they led by two points. Punters would have bet that the Shamrocks would be setting sail for home at that stage, but it was not going to happen - not yet at least.
Then the Shamrocks, being Shamrocks, got a 20-metre free. Shefflin, as he has done umpteen times, slammed it home.
When Patrick Reid got another major score two minutes later things looked ominous for the Tullaroan lads. However, they swarmed onwards. Three unanswered points by Mark, Martin and Padraig Walsh had them in buoyant mood as they trooped off at the break (Shamrocks 2-7, Tullaroan 0-12).
The second half flashed and exploded from every corner of the field. A goal by Mark Aylward in the 39th minute seemed ominous for the Tullaroan chances, but still they slugged it out as points by Martin and Padraig Walsh got them back in the ring.
Henry Shefflin slipped over a few when opportunity presented. T.J. Reid gave him a helping hand with a couple more, but still the Tullaroan lads went toe to toe. Conor Walsh and David Hoyne came in and scored for the winners. Jimmy Coogan came in and busted a gut for Tullaroan. Tommy went forward and went back. Tommy went everywhere to help.
Tullaroan nearly pulled it off too. The final few minutes were dynamite, as what seemed like the entire Tullaroan village swarmed towards the Shamrocks goal. But Ballyhale stood strong, and commanding. They were not for bending at any price.
For Shamrocks, the Reids were superb hurling craftsmen. Big men, they have a great ability to read, anticipate, lay off unbelievable passes, and they have an uncanny ability to be where the greatest damage can be applied. For Tullaroan, the Walsh brothers brought a basket of hurling acumen to the table. Tommy was on fire, while Martin and Padraig were brilliant in every element of the game - they were a joy to watch in action.
Both sides put in the hard yards. It was great to watch.
SCORERS: Ballyhale Shamrocks - Henry Shefflin (1-7, 1-5 frees); Patrick Reid, Mark Aylward (1-0); T.J. Reid (0-3); Eoin Reid, Eamonn Walsh, David Hoyne, Conor Walsh, Michael Fennelly (0-1 each). Tullaroan - Mark Walsh (0-8, 0-4 frees); Martin Walsh (0-5); Padraig Walsh, Chris Maher (0-2 each); Richard Maher (0-2, frees); Tommy Walsh (0-1).
Shamrocks - R. Reid, P. Shefflin, M. Dermody, A. Cuddihy, A. Cummins, J. Holden, B. Aylward, G. Butler, E. Walsh, P. Mullen, T.J. Reid, H. Shefflin, P. Reid, E. Reid, M. Aylward. Subs: M. Fennelly for Cummins, D. Hoyne for Butler, C. Walsh for Mullen (inj), E. Fitzpatrick for E. Reid.
Tullaroan - R. Holland, P. Campion, M. Maher, E. Campion, T. Walsh, S. Maher, R. Maher, D. Dowling, K. Coogan, P. Walsh, C. Maher, Martin Walsh, Mark Walsh, S. Cuddihy, P. Buggy. Sub: J. Coogan for Cuddihy.
Referee - D. Connolly (Mooncoin).