AIB Leinster club SHC: Ballyhale retain title

November 29, 2009

Ballyhale captain Eamonn Walsh heads back to the dressing rooms with the Leinster trophy along with Stephen Egan of Tullamore after the AIB provincial club decider at O'Connor Park
By Cóilín Duffy Ballyhale Shamrocks (Kilkenny) 1-16 Tullamore (Offaly) 1-8 Ballyhale Shamrocks equalled Birr's record of seven AIB Leinster Club SHC titles, following a hard-earned eight-point win over the hosts at O'Connor Park, Tullamore this afternoon. Nine-time All-Star Henry Shefflin bagged six points in a game which saw Tullamore come firmly into contention in the second half. The first time finalists made an excellent start to this match with a point from half-forward Ger Treacy inside 40 seconds of the throw-in. However this was the only time that Kevin Martin's charges would lead in this match. Patrick Reid was in an eager mood for goals in the opening stages, and although his second minute shot was well saved by Tullamore veteran keeper Damian Fox, the Ballyhale full-forward would later make amends. It was Henry Shefflin who led Ballyhale's early scoring charge with three quick points, along with a Colin Fennelly effort pushing his side 0-4 to 0-1 in front by the 10th minute. Tullamore added their first point in 10 minutes thanks to a score from midfielder James Keane to cut the deficit to two points. However Ballyhale Shamrocks led by 1-8 to 0-5 at the interval, thanks to a 28th minute Patrick Reid goal. Reid's goal came following a long-range free with the ball broken down by Tullamore goalkeeper Fox inside, but the Ballyhale Shamrocks full-forward firmly struck the breaking ball to the net. Although James McGarry's charges powered to a 10-point lead early in the second half, they came under huge pressure in the second quarter. Shamrocks only scored three points in the closing 23 minutes with Michael Fennelly, Eoin Reid and Henry Shefflin on target, as Tullamore made an impressive comeback. Captain Shane Dooley led the charge for the hosts with a 50th minute goal to cut the gap to nine points. Dooley and corner forward Francis Kerrigan tried hard to claw back victory, but Ballyhale sealed victory with a sixth point from Shefflin in injury time. After the game Ballyhale Shamrocks captain Eamonn Walsh accepted the O'Neill Cup from Leinster Council Chairman Seamus Howlin. Shamrocks now face Newtownshandrum in the All-Ireland Club semi-finals after Christmas. Ballyhale Shamrocks - J Connolly; A Cuddihy, A Cummins, P Holden; P Shefflin, E Walsh, B Aylward; J 'Cha' Fitzpatrick, M Fennelly (0-2); TJ Reid (0-2), H Shefflin (0-6, 3f 1 65), C Fennelly (0-1); E Reid (0-3), P Reid (1-0), D Hoyne (0-2). Subs: B Costello for H Shefflin (Blood 18-19mins); M Aylward for C Fennelly (50); B Costello for P Reid (50); K Nolan for Holden (52); J Walsh for TJ Reid (59). Tullamore - D Fox; A Martin, C Bane, S Egan; N Mannion, B Dagg, H Tracey; J Keane (0-1), S Kelly (0-1); E Finnerty, K Martin, G Tracey (0-1); F Kerrigan (0-1), J Duffy, S Dooley (1-4, 3f, 1 65). Subs: S Martin for H Treacy (48); D Herlihy for Mannion (51); J Rouse for Kerrigan (59). Referee - James Owens (Wexford)

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