Shefflin leads Ballyhale to fifth All-Ireland title

Ballyhale Shamrocks 1-19 Portumna 0-17

Ballyhale Shamrocks 1-19 Portumna 0-17

Ballyhale Shamrocks claimed a record breaking fifth AIB All-Ireland Club SHC title, after a hard-earned win in a fast-paced final at Croke Park.

Henry Shefflin (0-9) hit five first-half points as Ballyhale led by 0-11 to 0-5 at the interval, with Joe Canning (0-12) and Damien Hayes keeping Portumna in touch.

Portumna could not get within four points of the Kilkenny outfit, as David Hoyne's 46th-minute goal wrapped up the Shamrocks' latest success.

Johnny Kelly's Portumna side made most of the early running as they looked to stretch ahead on the scoreboard.

But Ballyhale failed to yield and their backs showed their worth, despite the best efforts of Joe Canning and Damien Hayes as the Galway men went in search of early goals.

Ballyhale right corner back Alan Cuddihy, who won the AIB man-of-the-match award, was inspirational for his side in the opening stages, making an excellent clearance in the second minute as Canning piled on the pressure.

Joe Canning and Kevin Hayes were forced wide in the opening stages, with Shamrocks full-back Aidan Cummins also making some excellent hooks and blocks.

Portumna dominated possession early on, but it was their opponents who raced 0-2 to 0-0 clear by the fifth minute, with points from James 'Cha' Fitzpatrick and Shefflin.

Portumna continued to threaten in front of goal and Cummins had to react sharply to deny Joe Canning in the seventh minute.

Canning broke through for his side's first point in the ninth minute, only for clinical Ballyhale to hit their stride in attack and charge into a 0-7 to 0-1 lead by the 16th minute. Shefflin and the Reid brothers, TJ and Patrick, were on target during this impressive spell.

The Kilkenny kingpins, managed by Michael Fennelly, continued to look the better side, but scores were at a premium in the second quarter, as Portumna closed the gap.

Canning struck Portumna's first point from play in the 16th minute, and with Damien Hayes adding a brace of scores in quick succession, there were six points separating the sides at the break.

Portumna battled bravely on the restart as inter-county star Canning tried to inspire a stirring comeback.

The LIT student was immense in ressurecting Portumna's title hopes as he personally outscored Ballyhale by four points to two in a six-minute spell to reduced the deficit to 0-13 to 0-9.

However, Portumna were unable to reduce the arrears further during the closing 30 minutes, with Canning and Martin Dolphin trying their best to create scores.

As Shefflin and the Reids helped Ballyhale remain ahead, Portumna's day was summed up 14 minutes from the end when goalkeeper Ivan Canning failed to clear the ball to his brother Ollie, and Shamrocks corner forward Hoyne pounced to bat home the only goal of the hour.

Joe Canning and Andy Smith tagged on subsequent points for the men from the west, but there was no stopping the Ballyhale juggernaut, with captain Eamonn Walsh gleefully accepting the Tommy Moore Cup afterwards.

BALLYHALE SHAMROCKS: J Connolly; A Cuddihy, A Cummins, P Holden; P Shefflin, E Walsh, B Aylward; J Fitzpatrick, M Fennelly; C Fennelly (0-2), H Shefflin (0-9, 0-7f), TJ Reid (0-3, 0-1sl), E Reid (0-3), P Reid (0-1), D Hoyne (1-1).

Subs used: J Holden for M Fennelly (47 mins), M Aylward (0-1) for P Reid (49).

PORTUMNA: I Canning; A O’Donnell, E McEntee, O Canning; G Heagney, M Ryan, P Smith (0-1); L Smith, E Lynch; N Hayes, K Hayes, A Smith (0-1); D Hayes (0-2), J Canning (0-12, 0-6f, 0-1 '65'), M Dolphin (0-1).

Subs used: C Ryan for McEntee (12-14 mins, blood sub), C Ryan for N Hayes (41).

Referee: Cathal McAllister (Cork)

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