Henry Shefflin shines as Ballyhale Shamrocks claim All-Ireland final spot with Gort win
Ballyhale Shamrocks (Kilkenny) 2-17 Gort (Galway) 1-15
HENRY Shefflin claimed the man of the match award as Ballyhale Shamrocks advanced to an AIB All-Ireland club hurling final showdown with Kilmallock this afternoon.
Shefflin, 36, hit five points from play and rolled back the years with another vintage display at O’Connor Park, Tullamore.
Galway kingpins Gort were outclassed by their Kilkenny counterparts as the five-time All-Ireland winners put themselves in sight of another Tommy Moore Cup success.
First half goals from brothers TJ and Eoin Reid had Ballyhale very much in the driving seat, as they led by 2-9 to 1-8 at the break.
And they kicked on after half-time, leading by nine points at one stage before claiming a five-point victory.
But it was Gort who got off to the better start, with 1-1 from Richard Cummins establishing an early lead.
Full-forward Cummins, who claimed 1-3, bagged the opening goal of the game in the fourth minute, finishing a scuffed low effort to the net after good work by Paul Killilea.
That was a major early fillip for Gort, shortly after goalkeeper Gavin Lally had denied Colin Fennelly with a point blank save.
But Lally’s clean sheet was gone in the eleventh minute when TJ Reid latched onto a wonderful flick from his brother Eoin to crack home an unstoppable drive into the top corner.
Three minutes later, it was Eoin on target, scrambling home a second Ballyhale goal to put some daylight between the sides.
Approaching half-time, a brace of Bob Aylward points handed Ballyhale their biggest lead of the first half, 2-8 to 1-5.
Gerard Quinn’s 25th minute free was Gort’s first score for eight minutes and another Quinn free in first half stoppage time had the Galway men clinging onto Ballyhale’s coattails at the midway point.
Ballyhale midfielders Aylward and Conor Walsh contributed handsomely on the scoreboard, registering six points from play between them, on a day when the winners hit 2-16 from play.
Scorers for Ballyhale Shamrocks: TJ Reid 1-2 (0-1f), H Shefflin 0-5, E Reid 1-0, B Aylward & C Walsh 0-3 each, P Reid 0-2, C Fennelly & P Shefflin 0-1 each.
Scorers for Gort: R Cummins 1-3, G O’Donoghue, M Mullins (1f), G Quinn (2f), G Lally (1 65) & W Walsh 0-2 each, J Grealish & P Killilea 0-1 each.
BALLYHALE SHAMROCKS: R Reid; K Nolan, J Holden, A Cuddihy; P Shefflin, M Fennelly, A Cummins; B Aylward, C Walsh; J Fitzpatrick, H Shefflin, TJ Reid; P Reid, C Fennelly, E Reid.
Subs: R Corcoran for Cummins (37), B Cody for E Reid (56), M Dermody for P Shefflin (56), G Butler for Fitzpatrick (58).
GORT: G Lally; M McMahon, T Linnane, M Cummins; A Harte, G Lally, S Linnane; S Forde, J Grealish; R Cummins, M Mullins, G O’Donoghue; A Mullins, G Quinn, P Killilea.
Subs: Jack Grealish for Killilea (41), W Walsh for Jason Grealish (43), C Helebert for Quinn (51), N Forde for S Forde (56), K Higgins for O’Donoghue (59).
Referee: J Ryan (Tipperary).