Five-star Ballyhale storm to last eight

A five-star first-half performance saw Ballyhale Shamrocks blast their way out of relegation trouble in the Kilkenny senior hurling championship.

Five-star Ballyhale storm to last eight

A five-star first-half performance saw Ballyhale Shamrocks blast their way out of relegation trouble in the Kilkenny senior hurling championship. St Patrick’s (Ballyragget) were put to the sword as the 2019 senior club All-Ireland champions stormed into the county quarter-finals with a 5-27 to 2-16 win.

In a strong first half Henry Shefflin’s side were 5-13 to 0-6 in front at half-time, Adrian Mullen (2-1) and Eoin Cody (1-4) the main tormentors of the Saints. St Patrick’s came back into the game in the second half, Seoirse Kenny and Joe Brennan grabbing a goal apiece, but the Shamrocks were never in danger of being overtaken.

A Conor Murphy free saw Graigue-Ballycallan earn a stoppage-time draw in their championship clash with Mullinavat. In a topsy-turvy game Ballycallan led by six at the break (1-6 to 0-3). Led by John Walsh Mullinavat roared back into the game in the second half.

Walsh hit seven points as the south Kilkenny side turned the game their way in the closing stages, but Murphy stayed cool and converted that last free to earn his side another shot as they drew 1-10 to 0-13. Last year’s county finalists Bennettsbridge are potentially one game away from a return to the intermediate ranks after they lost their relegation semi-final with Erin’s Own.

The Castlecomer side shot a quick 2-4 in the second half as they romped to a 3-18 to 2-9 win over the ’Bridge. Trailing by a point at half-time (2-7 to 1-9 – Liam Blanchfield and Jason Cleere scored the Bennettsbridge goals) Erin’s Own were a changed side in the second half.

County man Conor Fogarty and Michael Murphy scored two points apiece, then added a goal each to leave Castlecomer 3-13 to 2-9 in front with 20 minutes left. The game then unravelled for Bennettsbridge, who played the last quarter with 14 men. They will now play St Patrick’s in the relegation final.

James Stephens made sure of their place in the quarter-finals as they romped to a 4-19 to 0-15 win over Danesfort. Helped by the accuracy of Eoin Guilfoyle (three frees) and a Conor Browne goal the Village were nine points up inside 10 minutes (1-6 to 0-0). Paddy Hogan helped draw Danesfort back into the game, but they still trailed by five at half-time (1-11 to 0-9).

James Stephens were just as sharp in the second half. Two Tadhg O’Dwyer goals, plus another from Luke Scanlon, helped them secure victory with time to spare.

The four other senior teams were involved in league and shield finals. Dicksboro were crowned League champions but had to go the distance before beating city rivals O’Loughlin Gaels by 2-15 to 2-14 after extra-time.

Andy Gaffney was the super sub for the ’Boro, coming off the bench to hit 1-3 and hand the Palmerstown side a narrow win. After a tight game the sides ended all square on 1-11 apiece after 60 minutes. County player Bill Sheehan grabbed the Dicksboro goal as part of a 1-5 haul, while former Kilkenny forward Martin Comerford led the way for O’Loughlin’s.

There was little in the game until Gaffney grabbed what proved to be the decisive goal, but even then, the ’Boro were made to battle to the end. Davy Burke’s late goal made it a one-point game, but Dicksboro held out for the final whistle and the silverware.

The Shield final was another close-fought affair, but hitting the net proved vital as the Rower-Inistioge beat Clara by 3-11 to 0-17 to take the spoils. Kevin Murphy’s first-half strike helped the Rower along in the first half, even though they went in two points down (0-11 to 1-6). Further goals from Tom Doyle and Jim Ryan, scored little over 60 seconds apart, helped them turn the corner and take the lead before the end of the third quarter, a lead they held until the final whistle.

Following Sunday’s games, the quarter-final draw was made in Nowlan Park. O’Loughlin Gaels await the winners of the Graigue-Ballycallan and Mullinavat replay, while Shield champions Rower-Inistioge take on James Stephens. Clara will play Ballyhale Shamrocks while League champions Dicksboro play Erin’s Own.

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