Ballyhale Shamrocks 2-21 James Stephens 1-15
Ballyhale Shamrocks dedicated their performance to the late Eugene Aylward as won their 17th Kilkenny senior hurling championship title against James Stephens, 2-21 to 1-15, at UPMC Nowlan Park today.
In his victory address, Shamrocks captain, Michael Fennelly dedicated the latest success of the club to Aylward, who died tragically in a road accident a few weeks ago, just before the championship quarter-final.
"Hopefully this will bring some small comfort to the family," Fennelly said.
A lovely piece of individual skill by TJ Reid, just after he had missed two chances from frees, left Shamrocks within touching distance of their 17th success.
On 40 minutes Colin Fennelly won possession to the left on midfield. He shot a short pass to Reid.
The Kilkenny captain then drilled an inch perfect 35 metre pass to Eoin Cody, who scored a goal.
The score took Shamrocks, who were unsure with their finishing up to that, into a commanding lead of 2-12 to 1-09. James Stephens were in serious trouble and they never looked like saving the day.
James Stephens got off to a great start when they had the ball in the Shamrocks net after only 90 seconds.
Tadhg O'Dwyer blasted home at the country end when placed close to the target by Cian Kenny.
Wind-backed Shamrocks simply kept plugging away. After Colin Fennelly and Eoin Guilfoyle (free) swopped points, the Shamrocks drove on, although their shooting was off.
When Colin Fennelly placed Brian Cody for a Shamrocks goal in the 11th minute they jumped 1-03 to 1-01 ahead.
Their poor finishing, however, prevented them from opening out a lead worthy of their slick play. By the break they had registered eight wides.
TJ Reid accounted for four on his way to seven in all.
The Shamrocks' biggest lead of the half was five points, which was what they led by at the break, 1-12 to 1-07.
Stephens were all business in the opening stages of the second half. Early points from Eoin Guilfoyle (free) and Conor Browne got them to within three of the champions.
It was after that Reid missed two possible chances, but if his touch was off on frees, it wasn’t when he delivered that wonder pass to Cody, who shot the next, match-deciding score.
The Kilkenny champions face Clonkill (Westmeath) in the Leinster club championship.
Ballyhale Shamrocks - T.J. Reid (0-06, four frees, one 65); E. Cody (1-02); B. Cody (1-01);Colin Fennelly (0-03); A. Mullen, E. Reid, Evan Shefflin (0-02 each); R. Corcoran, P. Mullen, J. Cuddihy (0-01 each).
James Stephens - E. Guilfoyle (0-08, frees); T. O’Dwyer (1-01); N. Brassil (0-03, one free); S. Donohoe, C. Browne, C. Kenny (0-01 each).
Ballyhale Shamrocks: D. Mason; D. Corcoran, J. Holden, D. Mullen; E. Shefflin, M. Fennelly, R. Reid; R. Corcoran, P. Mullen; A. Mullen, TJ Reid, B. Cody; E. Reid, C. Fennelly, E. Cody. Subs - J. Cuddihy for P. Mullen (inj); M. Aylward for B. Cody; C. Phelan for D. Corcoran; G. Butler for R. Corcoran; J. Connolly for D. Mason.
James Stephens: G. Costigan, L. Murphy, T. Keogh, J. Tyrrell; D. Hennessy, E. Larkin, N. Mullins; S. Donohoe, C. Browne, C. Kenny, N. Brassil, L. Scanlon; E. Guilfoyle, M. Ruth, T. O’Dwyer. Subs - J. McGrath for S. Donohoe; D. Walton for D. Hennessy; L. Hickey for T. Keogh; M. McWey for L. Murphy; J. Byrne for E. Guilfoyle.
Referee: O. Kenny (Tullogher-Rosbercon).