A barrage of first half goals saw Ballyhale Shamrocks roar their way into the semi-finals of the Kilkenny senior hurling championship.
The reigning county and All-Ireland champions were slick in attack as they took an early grip against the Fenians (Johnstown).
Although Mark Webster (free) grabbed the opening score for Fenians, two swift goals from Colin Fennelly and TJ Reid saw the Shamrocks open up a 2-3 to 0-2 lead inside ten minutes. Reid bagged a second goal on 22 minutes and the Shamrocks looked to be in a good position when leading by four at half-time (3-6 to 0-11).
Despite their best efforts in the second half, those three goals proved a gap too big for the Fenians to bridge. With Henry Shefflin taking his tally to eight points the Shamrocks went on to record a 3-17 to 0-16 win.
Joining them in the final four will be Mullinavat, who beat the Rower-Inistioge by 0-18 to 0-12 in the last quarter-final.
Mullinavat, the 2014 intermediate champions, made a solid start, taking a 0-10 to 0-6 lead in at the interval.
The Rower needed a bigger scoring spread - Michael Grace was their only scorer in the first half – and got just that in the second period. They closed to within three points by the end of the third quarter but the ’Vat, who had big performances from Mark Mansfield (0-7), Joe Gahan and Jamie Fennelly (0-3 apiece), stepped on the gas. They carved out a six-point cushion in the closing stages, enough to see off the Rower revival.
Clara were the first team to book their place in the semi-finals, after grinding out a 0-12 to 1-5 win over Erin’s Own (Castlecomer) on Saturday.
The Castlecomer side took the early initiative, helped by a blistering penalty goal from Conor Fogarty, but their charge was halted when they lost corner-back James Mullins to a red card late in the first half.
The extra man advantage allowed Clara, led by Keith Hogan, to draw level by the break (0-7 to 1-4).
The 2013 county champions pressed on in the second half, pushing two points clear after Conor O’Shea and Hogan (65) scored two points.
They too were reduced to 14 after corner-forward Liam Ryan was sent off, but they maintained control of the scoreboard. O’Shea, Ciaran Prendergast and Jason Byrne all added points to swell their lead to eight. ’Comer’s sole score in the second-half was a Conor Fogarty 65 deep into injury-time.
The last semi-final berth will be filled next weekend when O’Loughlin Gaels take on Dicksboro. The ’Boro made sure of the city derby when they beat Danesfort in their first-round replay on Saturday, but they had to hold on for the 0-15 to 1-8 win.
With three minutes left to play, Cillian Buckley-inspired Dicksboro held a 0-14 to 0-8 lead, but Richie Hogan’s scrambled goal gave them an anxious finish.
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