Holders quest for 6 continues
BY NIALL SHERRY, SPORTS EDITOR
Shamrocks Ballyhale 5-19
James Stephens 0-14
UPMC Nowlan Park
Referee: Patrick O’Reilly
Shamrocks Ballyhale will meet O’Loughlin Gaels in this year’s St Canice’s Credit Union Kilkenny Senior Hurling Championship after putting James Stephens to the sword in the second of the semi-finals double-header at UPMC Nowlan Park last weekend.
At the long whistle there was an impressive 20 points between the sides as Pat Hoban’s men gave another reminder of their undoubted ability and undeniable hunger as they continue the quest for a sixth consecutive county title. The South Kilkenny side hit five majors in their rout of Brian Cody’s Village outfit as they made light work of their city opponents and will once again go into the decider as favourites to retain the Tom Walsh Cup.
When referee Patrick O’Reilly got matters underway, it was The Village who struck first, thanks to a point from the returning Cian Kenny in the opening seconds. The response from Shamrocks was to hit seven scores on the bounce over the next 14 minutes to gain a commanding six-point lead in the last four encounter.
Adrian Mullen got the Shamrocks first score of the game moments after Kenny’s strike and added another a few minutes later to add to points from Eoin Cody, Liam Barron, Eoin Kenneally, Niall Shortall and a placed ball from TJ Reid. To their credit, The Village responded brilliantly and hit six of their own without reply, A brace each from Eoin Guilfoyle and Ross Whelan and a couple of nice points, including one from Niall Brassil to leave the sides level as the opening period entered added time. Hoban’s men finished the half strongly, hitting the final four scores before the short whistle, including the first of five majors from coming from the hugely impressive Adrian Mullen. The sides went into the changing rooms on a scoreline of Shamrocks Ballyhale 1-10, James Stephens 0-7.
When the second half started, the champions showed no signs of taking their foot off the gas and tagged on 3 points before they struck the second of their majors, this time TJ Reid breaching The Village net to increase the Shamrocks lead to some 11 points. Brian Cody’s team were struggling to cope and gain any meaningful foothold in the game. The city side did manage to notch the next three scores with nice efforts from Niall Brassil, Andy Parsons and Luke Scanlon. With 43 minutes on the clock, The Village found themselves eight points in arrears.
Paddy Mullen and Liam Barron registered points for Pat Hoban’s side before the travelling Colin Fennelly rifled past Gavin Costigan in the James Stephens goal for goal number 3. That was well and truly the insurance score for the All-Ireland club champions, if one was needed. A bitterly disappointing performance for The Village would only see them add three further points to their total while Shamrocks would show more clinical finishing to add 2-4 to an eye-catching scoring display.
Colin Fennelly showed no signs of jetlag as he helped himself to a second goal of the game while Adrian Mullen, TJ Reid and Niall Shortall split the posts for nice scores before Eoin Cody raised the final green flag in the 57th minute. Substitute Stephen Barron struck the final point for Shamrocks before Cian Kenny completed the game’s scoring with a point in added time. Thankfully, from a Village point of view, referee Patrick O’Reilly brought matters to a close with the scoreboard reading, Shamrocks Ballyhale 5-19, James Stephens 0-14.
Shamrocks: TJ Reid (1-6, 2f), Colin Fennelly (2-0), Adrian Mullen (1-3), Eoin Cody (1-1), Niall Shortall, Eoin Kenneally, Liam Barron, Paddy Mullen (0-2 each), Stephen Barron (0-1)
James Stephens: Eoin Guilfoyle (0-4, four frees), Niall Brassil (0-2, 2f), Cian Kenny (0-2, 1 free), Andy Parsons, Luke Scanlon (0-2 each), Stephen Manogue (0-1, free), Ross Whelan (0-1)
Shamrocks: Dean Mason; Dara Mason, Darragh Corcoran, Killian Corcoran; Evan Shefflin, Richie Reid, Paddy Mullen; Conor Walsh, Liam Barron; Adrian Mullen, TJ Reid, Eoin Cody; Eoin Kenneally, Colin Fennelly, Niall Shortall.
Subs: Eoin Reid for Fennelly 52 mins, Brian Butler for Walsh 53 mins, Mark Aylward for L Barron 58 mins, Stephen Barron for Shortall 58 mins.
James Stephens: Gavin Costigan; Shane Donohoe, Luke Murphy, Mikey Byrne; Niall Delaney, Niall Brassil, Diarmuid Cody; Luke Scanlon, Willie Spencer; Sean Manogue, Tadhg O’Dwyer, Andy Parsons; Ross Whelan, Cian Kenny, Eoin Guilfoyle.
Subs: Stephen Manogue for Whelan 41 mins, Ethan Butler for Guilfoyle 42 mins, Liam Rafter for Sean Manogue 48 mins.
Referee: Patrick O’Reilly