AIB All-Ireland Club SHC Final: Ballyhale return to summit
AIB All-Ireland Club SHC Final
Ballyhale Shamrocks 1-22 Dunloy Cúchulainns 1-15
By Cian O’Connell at Croke Park
Ballyhale Shamrocks, the most decorated hurling club in the land, were able to survive the stern questions posed by a spirited Dunloy.
Despite the absence of the injured Adrian Mullen, Shamrocks still had sufficient craft to deal with a determined Dunloy outfit, who remained highly competitive throughout.
Ultimately, though, Dunloy just couldn’t land enough scores with Shamrocks nailing eight of the last 10 points in the game to seal another AIB All-Ireland club success.
Closely contested the opening period eventually concluded with Ballyhale departing at the interval 1-9 to 1-7 ahead.
It was a hard earned lead, though, because Dunloy thundered into the match clipping an early goal, but the Shamrocks remained defiant.
Inside Colin Fennelly was causing the Ulster standard bearers plenty of bother, while Eoin Cody carried a potent threat too.
Fennelly and Cody’s contribution put Dunloy under some duress, but Ballyhale weren’t clinical converting opportunities.
Dunloy custodian Ryan Elliott made a couple of fine saves with Shamrocks converting 1-9 from 18 chances in the first half. At the opposite end Dunloy were efficient clipping 1-7 from 11 attempts.
Ronan Molloy skipped through to blast a third minute goal as the underdogs snapped into the match.
Conal Cunning’s pass released Molloy, who struck a major that gave Dunloy an early injection of hope.
Ballyhale responded smartly guiding over the next three points courtesy of Fennelly and TJ Reid (2) to earn a 0-4 to 1-0 advantage by the 10th minute.
Paul Shiels and Oran Quinn rifled over points for Dunloy, but Shamrocks responded by netting a vital goal.
Cody, who finished with a 1-5 haul, connected with Fennelly’s pass before making the Dunloy net dance.
Dunloy summoned a reply as Conal Cunning (free) and Nicky McKeague registered points to level in the 18th minute.
From then until the break Fennelly’s power caused significant bother, while Cody was also in splendid form as Ballyhale were 1-9 to 1-7 in front at the turnaround.
After the restart it was similarly tough with Cunning’s frees keeping Dunloy very much in the reckoning.
A 44th minute Cunning free had the gap back at the minimum, 1-13 to 1-12, with Reid and Ronan Molloy subsequently trading points.
With nine minutes remaining only a point divided the teams, 1-14 to 1-13, but Ballyhale stayed cool and calm.
Unsurprisingly Eoin Cody supplied some inspiration with a key score which was quickly followed by efforts from Paddy Mullen, Killian Corcoran, and Fennelly.
Once more Dunloy refused to wilt. Shiels and Cunning (free) hit points to trim the gap down to a goal, 1-18 to 1-15, but Ballyhale finished with a flourish.
Four points on the spin from Eoin Cody, Ronan Corcoran, Brian Cody, and Darragh Corcoran decorated Shamrocks’ victory. Kilkenny, Leinster, and All-Ireland champions again.
Scorers for Ballyhale Shamrocks: Eoin Cody 1-5, TJ Reid 0-7 (2fs, 4 65s), Colin Fennelly 0-2, Killian Corcoran, Evan Shefflin, Darragh Corcoran, Ronan Corcoran, Paddy Mullen, Eoin Kenneally, Joey Cuddihy, and Brian Cody 0-1 each.
Scorers for Dunloy Cúchulainns: Conal Cunning 0-7 (7fs), Ronan Molloy 1-1, Paul Shiels 0-2, Oran Quinn, Eamon Smyth, Keelan Molloy, Seann Elliott, and Nicky McKeague 0-1 each.
Ballyhale Shamrocks: Dean Mason; Killian Corcoran, Joey Holden, Brian Butler; Evan Shefflin, Richie Reid, Darragh Corcoran; Ronan Corcoran, Paddy Mullen; Eoin Cody, TJ Reid, Joey Cuddihy; Eoin Kenneally, Colin Fennelly, Niall Shortall.
Subs: Brian Cody for Shortall (51), Darren Mullen for K Corcoran (59).
Dunloy Cúchulainns: Ryan Elliott; Phelim Duffin, Ryan McGarry, Oran Quinn; Eamon Smyth, Kevin Molloy, Conor Kinsella; Paul Shiels, Eoin McFerran; Nigel Elliott, Nicky McKeague, Keelan Molloy; Ronan Molloy, Conal Cunning, Seann Elliott.
Subs: Decky Smyth for McKeague (45), Chrissy McMahon for N Elliott (54).
Referee: Johnny Murphy.