Borris-Ileigh manager Johnny Kelly accepts his side’s poor conversion rate, particularly the seven shots that dropped short, was the root cause of their defeat.
A plucky showing could have been so much more but for their 16 spurned scoring opportunities, eight of which were wides.
Ballyhale hit eight wides as well as the post and had two strong goal chances; but it looked and felt as if they were clinical, as Kelly acknowledged.
“At the end of the day, it wasn’t so much the wide count or the free count, it was those efforts that dropped short or maybe taken from long distance.
“On the flip-side, Ballyhale were so efficient, probably had a few wides but really were very clinical on the ball and finished well. It’s an area that did cost us.”
Kelly was keen to praise Ballyhale at the same time: “After losing an All-Ireland final, there are no easy words. But you have to actually give credit to Ballyhale. They’re an exceptional club first of all and the fact that they’ve just achieved their eighth All-Ireland final win, I mean the mind boggles when you think of what they’ve achieved.
“All I can really add is my heartfelt congratulations to Michael Fennelly and all the Ballyhale guys.
“It’s bitter disappointment for Borris-Ileigh, a small club that’s had a meteoric rise in the last two years. I hope that they gave some value for money over the last number of weeks and again today.”
Unlike the All-Ireland semi-final, there were no early nerves for Borris-Ileigh, although Kelly knew experience was an advantage for Ballyhale: “We were working really hard to shut down that like but Croke Park is such a wide field, it’s very easy to say, ‘Shut that down guys and get across’ but the reality is, when you’re out there, you’ve a lot of space to deal with and these guys, you know, are quality hurlers and will pick out positions and find each other with the ball.
“One of the things in how that experience manifests itself in Croke Park is the ability to look up and find a player across the field and Ballyhale did that on a number of occasions today.
“Whereas in a similar situation with us, we were going down maybe a couple of blind alleys and it didn’t work out but, again, that comes with experience.”
Jerry Kelly gave a marvellous performance in defeat and his manager was full of praise for the young forward: “Jerry has been very good for us all year, a young fella, 20 years of age (now 21), very strong. He comes from a great hurling family and a great pedigree, he put in a great shift for us, particularly in the first-half.
“We probably needed more at different stages from certain players but to their eternal credit, that’s their first run out for club players in an All-Ireland final.