Cody proves hat-trick hero as Ballyhale prove too hot for Clonkill
Leinster club SHC quarter-finals: Ballyhale Shamrocks 3-21 Clonkill 2-15
The All-Ireland champions had to work harder than expected to dispose of a gutsy Clonkill side in Mullingar yesterday - a hat-trick by Eoin Cody helping Ballyhale Shamrocks to a nine-point win.
Two early points from Cody, either side of a converted free from TJ Reid, had Ballyhale ahead by 0-3 to 0-0, but a fine goal by Brendan Murtagh levelled matters in the sixth minute. However, Henry Shefflin's charges added 1-4 by the 19th minute to take control.
Cody found the net in style in the 12th minute, while the points came via him and Reid (three, with two of them from placed balls).
At the other end, Murtagh - a former Leinster player - gained a lot of possession but he was untypically wasteful, and he shot five wides in the first half.
Cody doubled his goal haul in the 22nd minute after being picked out by Michael Fennelly, but heroic defending by the home team, with Paddy Dowdall always prominent, and three late points by Murtagh (including one free) kept the outsiders in touch as Ballyhale led by 2-9 to 1-5 at the interval.
After a wide from Clonkill sub Eoin Price, Cody completed his hat-trick within a minute of the restart when he flicked the ball past Andrew Mitchell from close range after the goalkeeper had saved Colin Fennelly's initial shot.
This effectively ended any lingering doubts about the outcome. However, the Westmeath men battled away with veteran Murtagh regaining his best form.
The skipper led the way to end up as top scorer with 2-9 and he showed strength and skill to score his second goal, in the 46th minute.
A brave Clonkill outfit had the margin down to six points (3-18 to 2-15) by the hour mark, but Ballyhale wrapped up their victory with three points in injury-time. TJ Reid got one of them from play and the other from a free, while sub Mark Aylward got a wonderful last-gasp point. Reid finished the contest with 11 points, including seven converted frees, but the winners' scoring honours went to Eoin Cody with 3-4 from play.
Scorers - Ballyhale: E Cody 3-4; TJ Reid 0-11 (7f); E Shefflin, R Reid, A Mullen, E Reid, M Aylward, E Kenneally 0-1 each. Clonkill: B Murtagh 2-9 (5f, 1 '65); N Dowdall 0-2; L Folan, S Power, L Loughlin, Anthony Price 0-1 each.
Ballyhale Shamrocks - D Mason; D Corcoran, J Holden, D Mullen; E Shefflin, M Fennelly, R Reid; R Corcoran, J Cuddihy; A Mullen, TJ Reid, B Cody; E Reid, C Fennelly, E Cody. Subs: M Aylward for B Cody (h-t), E Kenneally for Cuddihy (39), C Phelan for C Fennelly (51), G Butler for M Fennelly (54), P Hearne for Corcoran (59).
Clonkill - A Mitchell; D Egerton, Adam Price, J Kenny; K Reilly, P Dowdall, L Folan; S Power, C Austin; N Mitchell, P Scally, L Loughlin; N Dowdall, B Murtagh, J Smyth. Subs: E Price for Kenny (23), Anthony Price for Austin (39), M Keegan for Scally (44), C Nolan for Smyth (47), E Loughlin for Mitchell (50).
Ref - J Heffernan (Wexford)