The large crowd was treated to high quality fare when the Rower-Inistioge beat Ballyhale Shamrocks in the South under-21 Roinn A hurling championship final on Sunday.
Ballyhale scored first but it was the only time they led. The Rower were ahead by six points at the break (0-14 to 0-8), but they were rarely safe.
Shamrocks had two players dismissed in the half, one at each end of it. They cut the deficit to minimum with eight minutes remaining, but the Rower finished well.
Darren Mullen opened the scoring for Ballyhale with a point.
Jim Ryan levelled after he caught a great ball and fired over from 45 metres.
Moments later Eoin Kenneally (B) appeared to be through on goal, but Ciarán Ryan got in a vital flick to deny the attacker.
Diarmuid O’Brien pushed the Rower into a lead they were never to surrender when he picked up a loose clearance from Conor Reid and pointed after four minutes. David Kelly got the next four points.
His first was from a 65 and then two frees following fouls on the impressive Ritchie Leahy. The fourth point was the pick of the bunch when he fired over from 65 metres after being picked out by Tom Doyle (0-6 to 0-1).
Adrian Mullen (S) stemmed the flow when he scored a free. The Rower replied immediately from the puck-out when Pat Lyng and David Kelly combined to release Ritchie Leahy, who pointed (0-7 to 0-2).
Patrick Mullen (S) replied before Ritchie Leahy got on to a break and left three players in his wake before slotting over (0-8 to 0-3) after 16 minutes.
Jim Ryan (RI), who fielded lots of high ball, gathered another before transferring to Cathal Bolger, who shot over.
Adrian Mullen (S) pointed two frees within a minute after fouls on Ronan Corcoran and Joey Cuddihy to cut the deficit to 0-9 to 0-5.
Jim Ryan, who was a thorn in Ballyhale’s side, caught a great ball and fired over.
In the 24th minute, Darren Mullen (S) won a ball and shot low only to be denied by a great save from Paddy Lyng in the Rower goal.
Adrian Mullen picked up the resulting loose clearance and was fouled. He duly slotted over, 0-10 to 0-6.
Adrian Mullen reduced the deficit to three after 25 minutes. Kevin Murphy (RI) replied quickly but Ballyhale spurned a goal chance when Joey Cuddihy centred for Darren Mullen, who shot narrowly wide on the turn.
Cathal Bolger (RI) pointed his second of the half from 35 metres before Adrian Mullen replied with a free on 30 minutes, 0-12 to 0-8.
Pat Lyng (RI) landed a great point from 50 metres after he won a ball from a ruck of players.
David Kelly extended the lead to six when he pointed a free after he was fouled, leaving the score 0-14 to 0-8 at half time.
Ballyhale needed a good start to the new half, and they got it. Darren Mullen gathered a ball before finishing to the net on 31 minutes, 0-14 to 1-8.
The Rower’s lead was down to two points within minutes when Adrian Mullen scored a great point from the right wing, 0-14 to 1-9.
However, Ballyhale’s momentum was halted when they had a player dismissed in the 33rd minute on a second yellow card offence.
To compound Ballyhale’s misery, David Kelly pointed the resulting free, 0-15 to 1-09. Jim Murphy raced down the left wing and found Cathal Bolger, who slotted over to extend Rower’s lead to 0-16 to 1-9.
Ballyhale cut the deficit to the minimum after 45 minutes after they landed the next three points. Ronan Corcoran’s fine point from 50 metres was sandwiched between two Adrian Mullen frees.
Pat Lyng (RI) was fouled after a strong run and David Kelly converted (0-17 to 0-12).
Pat Lyng was instrumental in the next score when he worked hard to win a ball before transferring to Ciarán Ryan, who found David Kelly free. The latter pointed.
Adrian Mullen reduced the Rower's lead to one with eight minutes from the end when he landed a pair of frees.
The dynamic ball carrying Joey Cuddihy was fouled for the first before a foul on Conor Phelan was moved up for dissent.
A long clearance from Tom Doyle was deflected out for a Rower 65, which was converted by David Kelly (0-19 to 1-14).
Ritchie Leahy showed great composure to pick out Jack Walsh with a cross-field pass, and he was dragged to the ground. The unerring David Kelly pointed ( 0-20 to 1-14).
Ritchie Leahy showed his ball winning ability when he caught a great ball and picked out David Kelly, who fired over the insurance point on 60 minutes.
Adrian Mullen concluded the scoring on 61 minutes from a 45 metre free.
Ballyhale’s misery was compounded when one of their players was shown a straight red card in the 65th minute.
Special mention has to be made of Adrian Mullen and David Kelly for their expert free taking. Between them they scored 19 points from placed balls (16 frees and 3 65s) in immaculate displays of free taking.
The Rower-Inistioge had good performers throughout but especially Jim Murphy, Ciarán Ryan, Shane Ryan, Jack Walsh, David Kelly, Pat Lyng, Jim Ryan, Ritchie Leahy and Cathal Bolger.
Best for Ballyhale were Eugene Aylward, Ronan Corcoran, Adrian Mullen, Darren Mullen and Joey Cuddihy.
Rower-Inistioge - Paddy Lyng; Jim Murphy, Tom Doyle, Kieran Meaney; Ciarán Ryan, Jack Walsh, Shane Ryan; David Kelly (0-11, six frees, three 65s), Michael Galavan; Jim Ryan (0-2), Pat Lyng (0-1), Ritchie Leahy (0-2); Cathal Bolger (0-3), Diarmuid O’Brien (0-1), Kevin Murphy (0-1). Subs - Caoimnín Lynch for D. O’Brien; Robbie Walsh for T. Doyle.
Ballyhale Shamrocks - Conor Reid; Enda Kenneally, Eugene Aylward, Conor Phelan; Kevin Mullen, Brian Butler, Evan Shefflin; Ronan Corcoran (0-1), Patrick Doyle; Adrian Mullen (0-12, 10 frees), Darren Mullen (1-1), Joey Cuddihy; Joseph Cuddihy, Eoin Kenneally, Patrick Mullen (0-1). Subs - Brian Cody for E. Kenneally; Dylan Aylward for J. Cuddihy.
Referee - Paul Cahill (Dunnamaggin).