A second win in three and both successes were over last year’s championship finalists, so Ballyhale Shamrocks can be pleased enough.
This victory over hugely disappointing Carrickshock in the senior hurling league in bright and pleasant Hugginstown on Thursday prompted two thoughts - 1 Shamrocks could be a force again; 2 the ’Shock have a lot of soul-searching to do.
By general agreement Carrickshock under performed in last year’s county final when they looked to have a very real chance of landing the title. Here they were under a bit of pressure from the start, but they reached half-time in an okay position when a mere point behind, 0-8 to 0-9.
With the fresh breeze behind them afterwards a big push was expected. There was never a hint of it. First the ’Shock departed from their game plan. Then their touch deserted them.
Sad to say, they looked a sorry lot at the finish! With two decent victories behind them management had a right to expect more. Even taking the loss of the injured Richie Power into consideration, two ‘no shows’ in four games when a performance was expected leaves a lot of issues to be explored.
Shamrocks? Their hurling was impressive, and remember, they were without Henry Shefflin. From the early moments when centre-back, Joey Holden burst out of defence and up the field like a man leading a cavalry charge, there was a determined and busy look about them.
They were good winners. T.J. Reid - the county had better keep its fingers crossed nothing happens him because he is on fire at the moment - Holden, Michael Fennelly, Bob Aylward and Alan Cuddihy were all wonderful. ‘Cha’ - remember the James Fitzpatrick guy? - was back playing his best game, reading situations; cleaning up around his own ‘40’, knitting pretty but effective plays together. There was a cut about Eoin Reid too that suggested he might be about to unfurl aspects of his game we haven’t seen for a while.
Minor star, Darren Mullen, joined in the fray during the second half. He was very prominent, and he struck more ball in his short run than some did over the 60 minutes.
From an early stage the Shamrocks got on top, and until John Dalton managed to drag together the losers unsure full-back line, they looked capable of causing a lot of damage, with Mark Aylward and Eoin Reid winning a lot of ball in the corners. The divide was at it greatest in the 10th minute (0-6 to 0-2) after ‘Cha’ played a lovely 1-2 with T.J. Reid before scoring.
The ’Shock were actually hanging in, with free taker Jamie Power was their main source of scores. That was the way it continued up to the break, when Power had six scores in the bag and the divide was the minimum (0-9 to 0-8).
The second half started with points for Shamrocks from T.J. Reid (2) and ‘Cha’.....within three minutes. There was an interruption when Jamie Power converted a 65 at the other end.
Busy, busy Shamrocks let rip again.....Colin Fennelly (2) and T.J. Reid (free) pointed. On 43 minutes Bob Aylward lofted a huge free from the winners ‘40’ toward the village end goal. T.J. plucked the ball from the sky and from about 14 metres smashed it into the net.
The difference was 1-15 to 0-9. Shamrocks put on a show afterwards as the opposition fell asunder.
Scorers: Ballyhale Shamrocks - T.J. Reid (1-9, eight frees); James ‘Cha’ Fitzpatrick, Colin Fennelly (0-3 each); Eoin Reid (0-2); Michael Fennelly, Darren Mullen (0-1 each). Carrickshock - Jamie Power (0-8, seven frees, one 65); Niall Tenneyson (0-2); Brian Donovan (0-1).
Ballyhale Shamrocks - Richie Reid, Alan Cuddihy, Aidan Cummins, Michael Dermody, Keith Nolan, Joey Holden, Bob Aylward, Michael Fennelly, Ronan Corcoran, James ‘Cha’ Fitzpatrick, Colin Fennelly, T.J. Reid, Eoin Reid, Brian Cody, Mark Aylward. Subs - Darren Mullen, Joe Cuddihy.
Carrickshock - Emmett Dunphy, Richard Frisby, John Dalton, David Franks, John Murphy, John Tennyson, Darren O’Dwyer, Michael Rice, Paddy Mulcahy, Jakie Power, Niall Tennyson, Michael Rohan, John Power (Stoneyford), Kevin Farrell, Brian Donovan. Subs - John Cahill, James Grace, John Power (Lismatigue).
Referee - Ray Byrne (Glenmore).