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Aylward pounces to end St Martin's gritty resistance

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Mark Aylward's goal proved crucial for Ballyhale. Photo: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

Mark Aylward's goal proved crucial for Ballyhale. Photo: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

Mark Aylward's goal proved crucial for Ballyhale. Photo: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

Ballyhale Shamrocks, the champions in 2012, took a while to find their way but once they hit top stride, they convincingly gunned down St Martin's (Muckalee) to book their place in yet another county final.

St Martin's opened against the breeze and employed an extra defender.

They had the opponents all confused and after 18 minutes led by 0-5 to 0-2 with veteran attack, John Maher, leading the line well.

Shamrocks eventually found their rhythm after a switch between central attacker, Henry Shefflin and Colin Fennelly. Points from Eoin Reid and Shefflin got them going and by the 24th minute they were on level terms at 0-6 each.

They continued to drive on. A late brace of points from James 'Cha' Fitzpatrick left them leading at the interval by 0-8 to 0-6.

St Martin's had the arrears at the minimum after John Mulhall pointed seconds after the restart but then T.J. Reid (2) and Henry Shefflin pointed as the Shamrocks began to exert their control.

They were still finding their way when Martin's had a defender sent off following a second yellow card offence in the 40th minute. To their credit they hung on gamely, and a pair of frees from John Maher had them well in game turning into the last quarter (0-13 to 0-10).

Shortly afterwards a quick-fire Shamrocks move ended with T.J. Reid setting up sub Mark Aylward for a good goal to take them 1-13 to 0-10 ahead.

After James 'Cha' Fitzpatrick and John Maher traded minors the Shamrocks hit back at the double through Fitzpatrick and David Hoyne to take a firm grip on proceedings at 1-16 to 0-11.

Martin's refused to go away though. Minors from John Maher and Eoin McGrath kept them in the hunt, but Shamrocks put in a big finish which earned points for Mark Aylward, Conor Walsh and Henry Shefflin to get them through to the final and a shoot-out with defending champions, Clara.

Scorers: Ballyhale Shamrocks: TJ Reid 0-7 (7f), M Aylward 1-1, H Shefflin, J Cha Fitzpatrick 0-3 each, E Reid 0-2, C Walsh, D Hoyne, C Fennelly 0-1 each. St Martin's: John Maher 0-8 (5f), Joe Maher 0-2, B Mulhall, E McGrath, T Breen, J Mulhall 0-1 each.

Ballyhale Shamrocks: R Reid, A Cuddihy, J Holden, T Coogan, P Shefflin, M Fennelly, C Walsh, B Aylward, D Hoyne, 'J Cha' Fitzpatrick, C Fennelly, TJ Reid, B Cody, H Shefflin, E Reid. Subs: M Aylward for Cody; K Nolan for Coogan.

St Martin's: C McGrath, James Maher, O Walsh, S Cadigan, B Byrne, P Nolan, Joe Maher, J Dowling, C Maher, B Mulhall, E McGrath, T Breen, J Mulhall, John Maher, P Maher. Sub: S Kinsella for B Mulhall.

Referee: R Byrne (Glenmore).

Indo Sport