Ballyhale hold off ferocious Slaughtneil effort to book place in All-Ireland club hurling final
Ballyhale Shamrocks 2-24 Slaughtneil 2-19
Ballyhale Shamrocks’ hopes of wining back to back All-Ireland titles remains very much alive - but only after the sternest of examinations from Derry champions Slaughtneil.
Mickey McShane’s side came into the game as 10/1 outsiders but it wasn’t until Colin Fennelly’s second goal of deep in injury time that the tie was finally settled.
The Ulster champions had been brilliant throughout, trailing by just a point at half time and twice digging themselves out of a hole. With ten minutes remaining it looked like Ballyhale had finally broken Slaughtneil’s resistance when Eoin Reid put them five clear.
However, Slaughtneil responded and hit the next three points of the game. On 58 minutes, Ballyhale once again looked like they had done enough when TJ Reid put them four points to the good only for Slaughtneil to cut the gap to the minimum with a brilliant individual Brendan Rogers goal. Fennelly finally settled things with almost the last action of the game.
The first half was a high class affair. The game didn’t see a wide until Reid miscued on 14 minutes while Slaughtneil didn’t register on that front until the 25th minute.
The Ulstermen set the tone from early on and raced into a 1-2 to 0-1 lead after just six minutes. The goal came after Se McGuigan broke a sideline cut into the path of Jerome McGuigan, whose first-time pulled flashed past Dean Mason and into the net.
The half continued at relentless pace with Christopher McKaigue and Rogers picking off some brilliant points while Reid, Brian Cody and the excellent Evan Shefflin - nephew of the manager Henry - kept the scoreboard ticking over for the Kilkenny-men. Fennelly grabbed the Shamrocks’ goal.
Ballyhale led by the minimum at half time (1-11 to 1-10) but Slaughtneil tied the game up immediately after the break through Sean O Caiside and the sides went score for score for the next ten minutes. It wasn’t until the 44th minute that Ballyhale managed to extend their lead to three points.
From there they did enough to hang on and secure a spot in the All-Ireland final on January 19 in Croke Park.
SCORERS -Ballyhale: TJ Reid 0-11 (10f), C Fennelly 2-1, E Shefflin, B Cody 0-3 each, R Corcoran, E Cody 0-2 each, E Reid, P Mullen 0-1.
Slaughtneil: C O’Doherty 0-9 (9f), B Rogers 1-2, J McGuigan 1-0, B Cassidy 0-3, C McKaigue 0-2, M McGrath, S O Caiside, S McGuigan 0-1 each.
Ballyhale Shamrocks: D Mason; J Holden, D Mullen, D Corcoran; E Shefflin, M Fennelly, R Reid; R Corcoran, C Walsh; A Mullen, TJ Reid, B Cody; E Reid, C Fennelly, E Cody SUBS: P Mullen for Walsh (HT), M Aylward for Cody (58), J Cuddihy for E Cody (60),
Slaughtneil: O O’Doherty; K McKaigue, S Cassidy, S O Caiside; C McKenna, S McGuigan, M McGrath; G Bradley, C McKaigue; M McGuigan, C O’Doherty, B Rogers; B Cassidy, S McGuigan, J McGuigan SUBS: C McAllister for O Caiside (49).
Referee: F Horgan (Tipperary).