Ballyhale Shamrocks survive second-half Kilmacud fightback to win 12th Leinster club title

Leading by 11 points at half-time, 1-15 to 0-7, Shamrocks extended the gap to 14 points before Kilmacud Crokes hit them for 1-7 without reply.
Ballyhale Shamrocks survive second-half Kilmacud fightback to win 12th Leinster club title

CRUNCH TIME: TJ Reid of Shamrocks Ballyhale in action against Mark Grogan of Kilmacud Crokes. Pic: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

BALLYHALE SHAMROCKS (Kilkenny) 2-22 KILMACUD CROKES (Dublin) 2-19 

A 12th Leinster senior club hurling title for Ballyhale Shamrocks but none of the previous 11 were as bizarre as this one.

Leading by 11 points at half-time, 1-15 to 0-7, Shamrocks extended the gap to 14 points before Kilmacud Crokes hit them for 1-7 without reply. Captain Caolan Conway’s 35th minute goal began the comeback and while a TJ Reid free stopped the rot, Oisín O’Rorke’s second 65 cancelled it out.

Then came a second Crokes goal, Alex Considine showing his pace to raise a green flag in the 47th minute, and quite incredibly it was a one-point game.

Joey Cuddihy hit back immediately with a point and Shamrocks’ advantage jumped to five seconds later when Eoin Kenneally’s long drive was misjudged by Eddie Gibbons, who was distracted by Niall Shortall, and ended up in the net.

Crokes were back within three points by the 53rd minute but the scores dried up in the closing stages, a Reid free and Ronan Hayes’ first score, and Shamrocks could breathe a sigh of relief.

Backed by a good breeze, Shamrock initially struggled to find their range and the wides were totting up too quickly for their likely. However, between the 10th and 20th minutes they struck over seven without reply.

Crokes’ woes grew in the 24th minute when Colin Fennelly found the net after TJ Reid had shown great dexterity to catch the ball at his shoulder in a tight spot. Just when it appeared Robert O’Loughlin was about to get the ball in his hand, Fennelly reacted quickest.

The former Kilkenny star was one of the top performers in the opening period but then he had an avalanche of ball sent into him as Shamrocks skinned Crokes on their puck-out and were generally showing more appetite for the battle in the middle of the field.

Crokes ended a 20-minute spell without a score in the 28th minute and finish the half with a further three points. However, Shamrocks contributed an additional four and were handsome half-time leaders.

Scorers for Ballyhale Shamrocks: T.J. Reid (0-8, 5 frees); C. Fennelly (1-3); A. Mullen (0-4); E. Kenneally (1-0); E. Cody, N. Shortall (0-2 each); R. Reid, P. Mullen, J. Cuddihy (0-1 each).

Scorers for Kilmacud Crokes: O. O’Rorke (0-8, 5 frees, 2 65s); D. Purcell (0-5); A. Considine (1-1); C. Conway (1-0); F. Whitely (0-2); M. Roche, B. Hayes, R. Hayes (0-1 each).

BALLYHALE SHAMROCKS: D. Mason; K. Corcoran, J. Holden, D. Mullen; E. Shefflin, R. Reid, D. Corcoran; A Mullen, P. Mullen; E. Kenneally, T.J. Reid, E. Cody; N. Shortall, C. Fennelly, J. Cuddihy.

KILMACUD CROKES: E. Gibbons; C. Mac Gabhann, D. Butler, B. Sheehy; R. O’Loughlin, M. Grogan, C. Ó Cathasaigh; B. Hayes, D. Purcell; C. Conway, R. Hayes, F. Whitely; A. Considine, O. O’Rorke, M. Roche.

Subs for Kilmacud Crokes: B. Scanlan for C. Conway (52); B. O’Carroll for M. Grogan (temp 54-58); S. Purcell for M. Roche (58).

Referee: P. O’Dwyer (Carlow).

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