Ballyhale Shamrocks (Kilkenny) 6-23 Clough Ballacolla (Laois) 0-14

After stumbling through the AIB Leinster club hurling championship, Ballyhale Shamrocks suddenly burst into life at Croke Park to claim a record 11th provincial title at a canter after a thumping win over Clough Ballacolla.

Colin Fennelly's 2-01 haul, and further majors from the excellent Eoin Cody, Eoin Reid, Brian Cody and Adrian Mullen wrapped up a gigantic 27-point final success for James O'Connor's team.

It was all too easy for the Kilkenny man who breezed to their third consecutive provincial success. An All-Ireland three-in-a-row is now well within their sights.

They will play the Munster champions - either Ballygunner or Kilmallock - in the All-Ireland semi-finals on the weekend of 22/23 January.

If they reproduce this form on that occasion then they will be almost impossible to defeat in what will be the 50th anniversary of the foundation of Ballyhale Shamrocks in 2022.

It was a difficult day for Clough Ballacolla, the first Laois team to reach the decider in 20 years.

Ballyhale burst out of the blocks in their previous provincial wins over Mount Leinster Rangers and St Rynagh's, surging 10 and nine points clear initially in those games, so it was no surprise that they started strongly again.

The difference this time was that they kept the hammer down throughout and ensured there was absolutely no second-half slippage having required a stoppage time Eoin Cody goal just to force extra-time in Tullamore last weekend.

In the quarter-finals, it had taken a terrific 53rd minute save from goalkeeper Dean Mason to prevent raging underdogs Mount Leinster from reducing their deficit to just a single point.

Clough Ballacolla brought typical intensity to the contest and midfielder Aidan Corby rose to the occasion with four first-half points, all long range scores.

Willie Dunphy, who postponed his honeymoon to be part of his club's provincial run, added three points in the opening half.

But even with number 10 Robbie Phelan augmenting their defence, they simply couldn't deal with the attacking threat posed by Ballyhale at the other end and Cody registered another goal after just four minutes.

Eoin Cody rifles home Ballyhale's opening goal

It came from a Paddy Mullen long delivery down towards the Hill 16 End that was won by Brian Cody and played out to Eoin on the right. His low finish to the corner was precise.

TJ Reid wore number 11 but played in the inside forward line alongside Fennelly and Eoin Kenneally. Darren Maher, a contender for Man of the Match against Kilmacud Crokes, picked up Fennelly but found the going desperately difficult and was eventually replaced early in the second-half.

Fennelly struck 2-01 in the first-half alone, both of his goals beauties that arrived in the 21st and 23rd minutes.

Reid played a sumptuous pass over Maher's head for the first while Fennelly the spadework himself for the second, racing clear after a short puck-out was turned over and improvising with a clever one-handed lob over the goalkeeper as Maher and Phelan closed in on him from behind.

Shamrocks led by double scores at half-time, 3-11 to 0-10, and any hope that The Colla may have had about fighting back, a la Mount Leinster and St Rynagh's, was extinguished by two more Ballyhale goals in the third quarter.

Adrian Mullen got in on the goalscoring act when he tapped down a Paddy Mullen delivery into space, raced clear and slotted a low shot to the net.

Brian Cody grabbed his major in the 40th minute with a deflected shot though Adrian Mullen's pinpoint pass to Eoin Cody in the buildup was the best part of the move.

Ballyhale led 5-15 to 0-12 at the second water break and were already starting to unload their bench, to allow their subs soak up the atmosphere.

A sixth goal arrived from Eoin Reid in the 53rd minute, the substitute expertly raising his hurl and getting the deftest of touches to Ronan Corcoran's ball in from the left to beat the goalkeeper.

Ballyhale Shamrocks: Dean Mason; Darren Mullen, Joey Holden, Kevin Mullen; Evan Shefflin, Richie Reid, Darragh Corcoran (0-01); Ronan Corcoran (0-04), Paddy Mullen (0-01); Eoin Cody (1-06, 0-03f), Brian Cody (1-01), Adrian Mullen (1-00); Eoin Kenneally (0-01), TJ Reid (0-06, 0-06f), Colin Fennelly (2-01).

Subs: Conor Phelan for Shefflin 42, Eoin Reid (1-01) for TJ Reid 47, Conor Walsh for Paddy Mullen 47, Brian Butler for Kevin Mullen 52, Liam Barron (0-01) for Kenneally 54.

Clough Ballacolla: Cathal Dunne; Diarmaid Conway, Darren Maher, Eoin Doyle; Brian Corby (0-01), Michael McEvoy, Lee Cleere (0-01); Willie Hyland, Aidan Corby (0-04); Stephen Bergin, Jordan Walshe (0-01), Mark Hennessy; Willie Dunphy (0-03), Robbie Phelan, Stephen Maher (0-03, 0-03f).

Subs: Cillian Dunne (0-01) for Hyland 42, John Dwyer for Bergin 46, Tom Delaney for McEvoy 47, Sean Corby for Hennessy 53.

Referee: Richie Fitzsimons (Offaly).