All-Ireland Club SHC final: Shamrocks in seventh heaven

March 17, 2019

St Thomas' David Burke tackles TJ Reid of Ballyhale Shamrocks. ©INPHO/James Crombie.

It was another St Patrick’s Day to remember for Ballyhale as they hammered St Thomas’ by 2-28 to 2-11 to capture their seventh All-Ireland.

Two ultra-dextrous strikes from Man of the Match Colin Fennelly (2-4) into the Hill 16 net had the Kilkenny and Leinster champions ahead by five points at the break, with wind advantage to come after the restart. Henry Shefflin’s men completely cut loose when the action resumed, TJ Reid finishing the day with 0-9 behind his name in brackets and Adrian Mullen on target five times.

The Galway champions suffered a blow prior to throw-in when it was learned that stalwart Eanna Burke was not fit to start, his place in the XV going to Damien McGlynn, and they were three behind inside as many minutes as Reid tapped over a close-range free and a point from play either side of a Mullen point.

Darragh Burke (free) got St Thomas’ up and running but Eoin Cody replied before Fennelly netted at the second attempt to make it 1-4 to 0-1 after only five minutes. Then came a rare flurry from the losers, who endured a luckless afternoon in Dublin 3... Darragh Burke (free) and Bernard Burke reduced the arrears before Conor Cooney drilled a twelfth-minute penalty low to the net to reduce the arrears to the minimum.

Mullen made it 1-5 to 1-3 and Reid pointed another free into the Hill to leave three between the teams at the midway stage in the first half. Darragh Burke pulled back a pointed free and Hawk-eye confirmed that McGlynn’s shot was over before midfielder James Regan arrowed over a fantastic equaliser in the 20th minute.

Fennelly flashed a goal chance over the bar before improvising brilliantly on 22 minutes to flick his second goal to the net – 2-7 to 1-6!

Ballyhale Shamrocks captain Michael Fennelly lifts the Tommy Moore Cup. ©INPHO/James Crombie.

Burke (free) traded points with wing back Evan Shefflin and Reid nonchalantly flicked over Ballyhale’s ninth point a minute from the short whistle, only for Darragh Burke to reply from a monster free. Brian Cody restored the five-point gap on the stroke of the break.

Eoin Cody swept over his second after Darragh Burke pointed superbly into the wind at the start of the second half and it became a procession towards the old Canal End as Reid’s 38th-minute free had the margin back out to six, followed quickly by further points from wing back Patrick Mullen, Brian Cody and Fennelly – 2-15 to 1-9 with twenty minutes left.

There was a lengthy hold-up as the losers’ wing back Fintan Burke received treatment for a nasty knee injury and Patrick Mullen hammered over the winners’ sixth unanswered point at the Davin End. After Brendan Farrell pegged one back, quickfire points from Adrian Mullen, Richie Reid and Fennelly left twelve between the sides with ten minutes to go. Fennelly made it double scores – 2-20 to 1-10 – and Adrian Mullen pointed twice within seconds; Ronan Corcoran put 16 between the teams.

Burke and Reid swapped frees and the latter pointed superbly from play in the first of eight added minutes to put the gap out to 18. Substitute Mark Aylward increased the lead before David Burke netted for the Galway champions when doubling onto a dropping ‘65’ deep into added time. There was time for Reid to forage another point from play before Michael Fennelly collected the Tommy Moore Cup after a memorable acceptance speech, where he poignantly dedicated this wonderful success to the late Eoin Doyle.

Ballyhale - D Mason; D Mullen, J Holden, B Butler; E Shefflin (0-1), M Fennelly, R Reid (0-1); R Corcoran (0-1), P Mullen (0-2); B Cody (0-2), TJ Reid (0-9, 5f), A Mullen (0-5); E Reid, C Fennelly (2-4), E Cody (0-2). Subs: M Aylward (0-1) for E Reid, C Walsh for R Corcoran, J Cuddihy for E Cody, K Mullen for D Mullen, G Butler for M Fennelly.

St Thomas' - G Murray; C Mahoney, C Burke, S Skehill; D Cooney, S Cooney, F Burke; J Regan (0-1), David Burke (1-0); D Sherry, Darragh Burke (0-7, 5f, 1'65), B Burke (0-1); B Farrell (0-1), C Cooney (1-0pen), D McGlynn (0-1). Subs: M Caulfield for F Burke, C Fallon for J Regan, C Kelly for D Sherry, D Finnerty for D McGlynn.

Referee - F Horgan.

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