With a second successive title, Ballyhale Shamrocks made it a clean sweep of All-Ireland club titles for Kilkenny this weekend despite some heroics from Borris-Ileigh’s Jerry Kelly and Brendan Maher.
Claiming an eighth crown in total, Shamrocks led from the 21st minute to the finish with some splendid shows from the likes of Richie and TJ Reid.
Borris-Ileigh registered eight wides like Ballyhale but hit seven shots short too and that inaccuracy proved costly when for long periods they were able to match their much-vaunted opponents.
On four occasions in the second half, Ballyhale went five points up before Evan Shefflin sent over a point from distance in the 52nd minute and with that, it appeared the contest was over. Despite James Devenney’s efforts, Borris-Ileigh couldn’t find the Ballyhale net.
However, four Borris-Ileigh scores followed that Shefflin score, a brace each from Maher and Kelly, to put two between the sides with a couple of minutes of normal time remaining. But then up stepped TJ Reid with a point from play and a free he won to seal it for Ballyhale.
The energy was more evident from Borris-Ileigh in the first quarter but there wasn’t enough dividend as much as they lead by 0-4 to 0-1 after 13 minutes. Although Jerry Kelly was having the time of his life - five times he aimed at the posts in the first half and five times the white flag was raised.
True, Ballyhale’s poacher extraordinaire Colin Fennelly could have sneaked a first-minute goal and was denied by the alertness of goalkeeper James McCormack but there was far more action at the other end although only Kelly was finding his range.
As Patrick Mullen showed his long-range scoring abilities and TJ Reid was punishing Borris-Ileigh’s inability to stop Ballyhale’s runners, the Kilkenny champions drew level in the 20th minute.
Borris-Ileigh’s puck-outs were becoming too predictable and four scores in a row pushed Ballyhale two up. A Jerry Kelly score ended that purple patch but then Eoin Reid and Patrick Mullen fired over points as McCormack was again called on to deny Fennelly a goal in the 27th minute.
Devenney blazed wide when a goal chance beckoned and soon after the puck-out was taken TJ Reid was helping himself to his second point from play to see his side take a 0-10 to 0-6 half-time advantage.
Scorers for Ballyhale Shamrocks: T.J. Reid (0-8, 5 frees); P. Mullen (0-3); E. Reid. A. Mullen, E. Shefflin (0-2 each); C. Fennelly (0-1 each).
Scorers for Borris-Ileigh: J. Kelly (0-7, 1 sideline); B. Maher (0-6, 4 frees); T. Ryan, Kevin Maher (0-1 each).
BALLYHALE SHAMROCKS: D. Mason; D. Mullen, J. Holden, D. Corcoran; E. Shefflin, M. Fennelly (c), R. Reid; R. Corcoran, P. Mullen; B. Cody, T.J. Reid, A. Mullen; E. Reid, C. Fennelly, E. Cody.
Subs for Ballyhale Shamrocks: J. Cuddy for R. Corcoran (47); M. Aylward for E. Reid (54); C. Walsh for P. Mullen (60+1).
BORRIS-ILEIGH: J. McCormack; S. Burke, P. Stapleton, L. Ryan; D. McCormack; S. McCormack (j-c), B. Maher, R. McCormack. T. Ryan, Kevin Maher; C. Kenny (j-c); J. Kelly, J. Devaney; Kieran Maher, N. Kenny.
Subs for Borris-Ileigh: J. Hogan for Kieran Maher (47); C. Cowan for T. Ryan (53); M. Stapleton for N. Kenny (54).
Referee: C. Lyons (Cork).