Ballyragget were too good for Kiltale in this semi-final fixture at Pairc Tailteann on Saturday but the Meath-men showed plenty of heart
Ballyragget (Kilkenny) .......... 2-20
Kiltale (Meath) ..................... 2-10
Ultimately the outcome was determined in a eight-minute spell in the opening quarter when Ballyragget outscored Kiltale by 2-4 to 0-1.
Thereafter, Ballyragget looked set for a final date. To their credit, Kiltale hung in there, almost matching their Kilkenny opponents on the scoreboard in the second-half.
Kevin Kelly took the scoring plaudits with 0-12 for Ballyragget that included scores from frees, play and two 65s.
It might be considered a positive sign for Ballyragget that he was outscored by his team mates, six of whom contributed to the tally.
Both goalkeepers made significant contributions to keeping the score down. Anthony Forde's third minute effort, saved by Michael Gannon, resulted in a 65 that Jack Regan pointed to leave Kiltale 0-2 to 0-1 ahead.
Seconds later Shane McGann was pressed into service to save from Joe Brennan with Kelly pointing the subsequent 65.
That left it 0-2-each after five minutes before Ballyragget upped a couple of gears. Conor Delaney bagged the opening goal with help from Kelly.
Ballyragget's second goal arrived in the 12th minute when Seoirse Kenny netted with assistance from Michael Brennan.
By the 20th minute Ballyragget were 10 points, 2-7 to 0-3, clear after Kelly sent over a free from his own 65.
On a calm overcast afternoon, the Kilkenny IHC winners looked set to canter home. McGann did his bit to ensure the visitors bagged no more goals.
An interesting statistic were the six yellow cards picked up by as many different Kilkenny-men. Kiltale incurred just one. In spite of the disparity on the scoreboard, there was a competitive edge to proceedings to the end.
Regan's accuracy improved the complextion of the scoreboard from a Kiltale perspective and the Meath SHC winners were 10 points off the pace at the break, 2-11 to 0-7.
Ballyragget 'keeper Michael Gannon denied Cillian O'Sullivan a goal shortly after resumption. Kiltale's position was enhanced with goals from James Kelly and sub Fearghal McCabe in the 42nd and 49th minutes respectively. The latter coming after a Regan goal attempt from a free was blocked.
Kiltale led twice in the early stages before the scores were tied on as many times in the opening five minutes. Then Ballyragget eased clear boosted by Kevin Kelly's accuracy from play and placed balls.
Ballyragget - Michael Gannon; Patrick McEvoy, Geoffrey Morrissey, Mark Staunton; Geoffrey Brennan, Stephen Staunton (C), Bill Staunton; Patrick Brennan (0-1), James Gannon; Seoirse Kenny (1-0), Kevin Kelly (0-12, 7fs, 2 65s), Joe Brennan (0-3); Michael Brennan (0-2), Oisin Brennan, Conor Delaney (1-1). Subs - Robert Healy (0-1) for McEvoy (28), Brian 'Brook' Phelan for O Brennan (ht), Sean Mooney for Gannon (49), Billy Morrissey for Delaney (58), Gerard Staunton for P Brennan (59).
Kiltale - Shane McGann; Anthony Donnelly, Phillip Garvey, Ciaran Ennis; Ronan Ryan, Stephen Donoghue, Conor Shirren; Anthony Forde (0-1), Padraig Forde; James Kelly (1-0), Cathal McCabe, Jack Regan (C) (0-9, 8fs, 1 65); Peter Durnin, Cillian O'Sullivan, Ross Ryan. Subs - Fearghal McCabe for Cathal McCabe (bs 19-23), Fearghal McCabe (1-0) for Cathal McCabe (ht), Sean Ryan (0-1) for Ronan Ryan (40), Adam Murphy for Durnin (40), Shane Lenehan for Donnelly (45), Iarla Hughes for Ennis (45).
Referee - Richie Fitzsimons (Offaly)