Brennans provide spark for Ballyragget
Ballyragget 3-14 Tooreen 1-9
Kilkenny champions St Patrick's Ballyragget had their expected victory in Ennis on Saturday, but their win over Mayo's Tooreen was nowhere near as emphatic as the scoreline suggests.
Without Kevin Kelly, their only county panellist, the Leinstermen failed to take full advantage of the stiff breeze and their 0-8 to 0-2 lead at the break looked to be in danger when it was cut in half by three Shane Boland frees within minutes of the restart.
Tooreen pressed forward in an attempt to repeat their shock Connacht final victory over Galway's Ballinderreen, but they were rocked when Eoin Bergin, a late replacement for Kelly at full-forward, crashed home the opening goal.
With a superior touch under pressure, Ballyragget opened spaces once the opposing defence sacrificed their sweeper in an attempt to get back into contact and two goals from Joseph Brennan put the result beyond doubt.
Inspired defending robbed him of another two and his efforts were aided by five colleagues striking from play and seven placed balls by Michael Brennan.
Tooreen's struggle to score from play left them depending on Boland's frees. An added-time goal from Ciaran Charlton was only a consolation.
SCORERS - St Patrick's Ballyragget: J Brennan 2-2, M Brennan 0-7 (5f, 2 '65's), E Bergin 1-1, B Phelan, Barry Staunton, S Kenny, Bill Staunton 0-1 each
Tooreen: S Boland 0-7 (7f), C Charlton 1-0, C Freeman 0-2.
ST PATRICK'S BALLYRAGGET: M Gannon; J Mooney, J Gannon, M Staunton; G Brennan, S Staunton, R Healy; Seoirse Kenny, Bill Staunton; P Brennan, M Brennan, Barry Staunton; B Phelan, E Bergin, J Brennan Subs: O Brennan for P Brennan (44m), P McEvoy for B Phelan (57m). P Gannon for Seoirse Kenny (62m), S Mooney for Barry Staunton (62m), A Ruth for Bill Staunton (64m)
TOOREEN: S Lenehan; D Huane, M Morley, A Henry; C Henry, S Coyne, D Kenny; C Freeman, C English; B Morley, F Boland, C Charlton; K Feeney, S Regan, S Boland Subs: Sean Kenny for B Morley (inj 19m), S Morley for C Henry (ht), N Robinson for D Huane (49m), D Harrison for C English (51m), B Douglas for Seán Kenny (61m)
REF - R McGann (Clare)