TJ Reid shines as Ballyhale Shamrocks shade tense clash with Clara

Kilkenny senior hurling champions O’Loughlin Gaels will face a tough test from city rivals Dicksboro as they bid to win back-to-back Walsh Cups for the first time in their history.

The four-times winners of the county’s top hurling crown (2001, 2003, 2010 and 2016) and only side to win their quarter-final without the need of a replay, O’Loughlin’s were paired with Dicksboro when the semi-final draw was made at Nowlan Park yesterday afternoon. The other semi-final is a repeat of the 2011 final as Ballyhale Shamrocks face James Stephens.

The draws were made 24 hours after the county’s three championship quarter-final replays were played.

Ballyhale Shamrocks were the first side to book their place in the semis, but were pushed all the way by Clara.

TJ Reid led the way, hitting 1-10, but the Shamrocks needed extra-time to see off their rivals on a 2-22 to 4-14 scoreline. Clara were quick off the mark, taking a first minute lead with a John Murphy goal. They hit a barren spell after that, allowing Ballyhale to get on top. Another goal from Liam Ryan shot them level (2-3 to 1-6), but Ballyhale edged ahead again by the interval (1-8 to 2-4).

Ballyhale kept that lead into the second half. With 15 minutes to play they had a five-point advantage (2-11 to 2-6) but Clara made a late drive to force their way back into the game. Jack Langton found the net before Chris Bolger grabbed 1-1 late on as Clara pulled the game back to level terms. Reid (sideline) and Bolger traded points as the sides finished all square (2-15 to 4-9).

Nothing could separate the sides in the opening stage of extra-time and they went in level (Clara 4-11, Ballyhale 2-17). The Shamrocks made a decisive break when Colin Fennelly hit a 74th-minute point before Adrian Mullen’s point helped settle Ballyhale into a winning run to the final whistle.

A good start to both halves helped James Stephens get the better of Carrickshock in their senior hurling quarter-final replay in Callan.

It was a topsy-turvy game for the Village, who were six points up in the first half but went in five down at the interval. A Tadgh Dwyer goal and points from David Walton helped fashion a solid lead, but two goals in little over a minute from Mark O’Dwyer and Brian O’Donovan, coupled with points from brothers Richie and John Power, saw Carrickshock turn the tide and go in with a 2-12 to 1-10 advantage at half-time.

The Village stormed back into contention in the second half. Walton led the way with four snappy points before Matthew Ruth ran through for a 39th-minute goal that gave the city side the lead again (2-16 to 2-13). Carrickshock rallied late on, scrambling home an injury-time goal, but couldn’t bridge the gap.

Dicksboro became the third city side to earn a semi-final berth, but had to fight hard to see off a stubborn Mullinavat in their replay in Callan.

Having scored the equalising free in the drawn game, Shane Stapleton was to the fore again, shooting three late points as Boro won 2-18 to 2-16.

The city side roared out of the traps and stormed ahead as goals from Oisin Gough and Robbie Fitzpatrick helped them take a 2-5 to 0-5 lead in the first quarter.

However, the ‘Vat were no slouches either. John Walsh blasted a goal in a purple patch that yielded 1-4 but Dicksboro were back in front by half-time (2-7 to 1-9).

The game was tight in the second half, but Mullinavat crept ahead when Liam Fennelly bagged a 52nd-minute goal (2-14 to 2-12). The pressure was on Dicksboro but they kept calm, Stapleton getting that late run of points, including the equaliser from a 60th-minute penalty, that turned things their way.

Elsewhere St Martin’s (Muckalee) lost their senior hurling status for 2018 as they lost the relegation final to Bennettsbridge by 1-20 to 0-15.

The ’Bridge took a decisive lead when an early Nicky Cleere free went all the way to the net and held that advantage until the final whistle. Despite the best efforts of Jason Shore (0-6), Cleere’s sure shooting (he scored 1-11) ensured Bennettsbridge retained their senior status for another year.

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