Blow-out as brilliant ’Bridge take Gaels apart

CELEBRATION TIME: Bennettsbridge celebrate winning the AIB All Ireland Club JHC final at Croke Park yesterday where they defeated Fullen Gaels. Picture: James Crombie.

AIB All-Ireland JHC: Bennettsbridge (Kilkenny) 3-19 Fullen Gaels (Lancashire) 1-8: Bennettsbridge from Co Kilkenny defeated Manchester side Fullen Gaels to claim the All-Ireland Club JHC title at Croke Park yesterday.

The Leinster champions led 3-11 to 0-6 at the break and Fullen Gaels’ hopes were completely extinguished 10 seconds into the second-half when Vincent Morrissey’s wild pull on Kevin Blanchfield saw referee John Keane brandish a straight red card.

Tempers were fraying at that stage and a couple of late challenges resulted in a yellow card for Alan Morrissey a minute later. It was a sign of the Lancashire side’s frustration after being completely outplayed in a one-sided first-half.

By the break, Bennettsbridge’s full-forward line had all found the net as the Kilkenny side adapted much better to Croke Park’s wide-open spaces.

Nicky Cleere, man of the match, finished with a nine-point haul for his side.

Fullen Gaels kept trying and they finally gave their supporters something to cheer when substitute Tom Corcoran found the net with the clock ticking into injury time.

After Cleere and full-forward Morrissey traded points in the opening six minutes, Christy Walsh’s side started to pull away with scores from Cormac Wafer and Aidan Cleere and once Brian Lannon found the net 12 minutes in it was becoming more difficult to see a way back for Fullen Gaels.

Further goals from Liam Blanchfield and Hugh O’Neill before the break left 14 points between the sides.

After that tempestuous start to the second period there were just two scores over the next 15 minutes before Bennettsbridge rattled off seven points in a row to ease to the title.

Scorers for Bennettsbridge: N Cleere (0-9, 0-6 frees), S Morrissey (0-3), L Blanchfield, H O’Neill (1-1 each), B Lannon (1-0), C Wafer (0-2), A Cleere, K Blanchfield, M Shiel (0-1 each).

Scorers for Fullen Gaels: V Morrissey (0-4, 0-2 frees), C O’Callaghan (0-3, 0-1 pen, 0-2 frees), T Corcoran (1-0), S Garry (0-1, 0-1 free).

BENNETTSBRIDGE: E Cleere; J Moran, R Lennon (capt), S Wemyss; J Cleere, E Morrissey, A Cleere; D Wafer, K Blanchfield; N Cleere, S Morrissey, C Wafer; L Blanchfield, B Lannon, H O’Neill.

Subs: Paul O’Neill for Wemyss, M Shiel for Lannon, Patrick O’Neill for K Blanchfield, W Murphy for O’Neill (all 56), E Fitzgerald for A Cleere (58).

FULLEN GAELS: T Goulding; S Wallace, L Knocker, C Maskey (capt); V Faherty, J O’Shaughnessy, A Morrissey; S Garry, R McEntee; P Duggan, G Jacob, A O’Neill; C O’Callaghan, V Morrissey, D O’Grady.

Subs: T Corcoran for O’Grady (30), N Unwin for Wallace (36), D Maskey for Duggan (52), J Sheehan for Jacob (56), D Walsh for Garry (58).

Referee: J Keane (Galway).


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