Beaten finalists last year and three-in-a-row champions in 2007, ’08 and ’09, Adare were somehow only marginally favoured to deny a coming Ballybrown side in this eagerly anticipated clash between the old and the new.
In the first half and for nine minutes into the second period, that was how it was panning out, the game tied in the 39-minute at 1-12 apiece and the underdogs giving the former champions all they could handle.
Adare added another 1-12 from there to the finish but, remarkably, Ballybrown could manage just a single point — from a free by marksman Alan O’Connor when the game was already well out of sight.
Even when they had been going well though, the underdogs had been far too reliant on O’Connor and placed balls.
A mere 1-3 was all the rest of the team could manage between them for the hour, dangerous full-forward Shane Kenny with the goal (21st minute), while O’Connor finished with 10 points, eight of those from frees (six) and 65s (two).
Though Adare hit the opening score — a first-minute point by centre-forward and county star Declan Hannon — Ballybrown were the ones with the wind and on fire early, 0-4 to 0-1 ahead after just four minutes, O’Connor with three of those points.
Gradually Adare began to grind into gear and for the next 15 minutes were the dominant side, outscoring Ballybrown 0-7 to 0-1, corner-forwards Donncha Sheehan and Willie Griffin with one each, wingers Conor Fitzgerald and Diarmuid Sexton (two) also getting on the score sheet while Hannon twice did the business from placed balls.
Then came the game’s first major, Ballybrown’s Shane King shaking off three markers to power home a fine shot in the 21st minute to level the scores at 0-8 to 1-5. It would remain tied at the break, the teams swapping three points apiece to leave it at 0-11 to 1-8.
Again Ballybrown got the better start after the break, outscoring Adare three points to one in the next five minutes, Bryan Griffin — shifted from centre-back up to the corner — with the first of those.
Adare hit back, Hannon with a superb opportunist goal in the 38th minute, ghosting in between keeper David Lyons and full-back David Harnett to deflect a long Sexton errant shot to the net.
Immediately, Ballybrown hit back, O’Connor with a fine point from distance and the sides were tied again, 1-12 apiece. Little did we know, however, that would be more or less that.
In the next four minutes the flying Willie Griffin, midfielder Jody Hannon and his brother Declan (two) tacked on four points for Adare; then Griffin pounced on a kicked pass by Declan to goal and it was game over.
Adare worthy winners then, but a feature worth mentioning — seven points from play by midfielder John Fitzgibbon lit up the Gaelic Grounds, while Declan Hannon was an impeccable 10 from 10 with his shooting.
Scorers for Adare: D Hannon 1-9 (6f), J Fitzgibbon 0-7, W Griffin 1-2, C Fitzgerald, D Sexton 0-2 each, J Hannon, D Sheehan 0-1 each.
Scorers for Ballybrown: A O’Connor 0-10 (6f, 2 65), S Kenny 1-0, D Hall 0-2, B Griffin 0-1.
ADARE: S O’Donoghue; JP Healy, M Clifford, S Lavin; R Kennedy, W McNamara (c), G Ahern; J Hannon, J Fitzgibbon; C Fitzgerald, D Hannon, D Sexton; W Griffin, P Keane, D Sheehan.
Subs: J Lohan for Ahern (49), A O’Connell for Griffin (53), PJ Hall for O’Donoghue (55), L O’Brien for Sexton (55).
BALLYBROWN: D Lyons; R Bourke (c), D Harnett, M Kiely; R Kenny, B Griffin, I Burke; R Griffin, S Foster; A O’Connor, P McCarthy, K Loftus; D Hall, S Kenny, D Byrnes.
Subs: J Hall for Foster (44), B Quinn for Burke (44), A Roberts for B Griffin (57).
Referee: M Meade (Glenroe).