Henry Shefflin launches managerial career as Ballyhale win Kilkenny championship
Ballyhale Shamrocks 2-20 Bennettsbridge 2-17
Henry Shefflin, the manager, is on his way. Arguably the best player in hurling history, he reached his first big target as a manager when presiding over Ballyhale Shamrocks' success in the Kilkenny senior championship.
Their three-point success over Bennettsbridge in the county final in Nowlan Park clinched their 16th county title, four behind Roll of Honour leaders, Tullaroan who lost the intermediate final to Graigue-Ballycallan in the warm-up to the big event.
Bennettsbridge, who were seeking their first Kilkenny title since 1971, staged a great second half revival but had left themselves with too much to do after a very slow start.
Ballyhale led by 2-12 to 0-8 at half-time, having done most of the damage in the first eight minutes, during which they out-scored Bennettsbridge by 1-5 to 0-0. TJ Reid, who finished on 1-10, scored 1-4 in the opening blitz, the goal coming coming in the fourth minute when he timed his run expertly before firing to the net.
Bennettsbridge gradually settled into the game and had cut the deficit to five points by the 14th minute before being hit with another setback when Eoin Cody scored Ballyhale's second goal.
Bennettsbridge needed a good start in the second half to have any chance of getting back into contention a and they got it when Brian Lannon scored their first goal in the 34th minute. He struck for a second goal in 42nd minute and two points by Enda Morrissey cut the deficit to three points at the three-quarter stage.
Ballyhale summoned on all their vast experience from there on and with captain, Michael Fennelly at his influential best at the heart of the defence, they kept the Bennettsbridge challenge at bay in a hectic finish.
Ballyhale's next challenge comes n the Leinster semi-final where they will play either Camross (Laois) or Naomh Eanna (Wexford) on November 18.
Ballyhale - D Mason; C Walsh, J Holden, B Butler; E Shefflin, M Fennelly, R Reid; R Corcoran, D Mullen; A Mullen, TJ Reid, B Cody; E Reid, E Cody, C Fennelly.
Subs: M Aylward for E Reid (49), P Mullen for D Mullen (53), J Cuddihy for E Cody (59), G Butler for Shefflin (61), B Aylward for B Cody (62).
Bennettsbridge - E Cleere; C Murphy, R Lennnon, C Wafer; D Wafer, J Cleere, E Morrissey; K Blanchfield, D Blanchfield; A Cleere, L Blanchfield, N Cleere; D Walsh, B Lannon, S Morrissey.
Sub: D Coyne for Walsh (33)
Ref - P Cahill (Dunnamaggin)