TJ powers Ballyhale to victory
Ballyhale Shamrocks 2-20 Bennettsbridge 2-17
Kilkenny hurling star TJ Reid, pictured above with his girlfriend, Miss Kilkenny 2017 Niamh de Brún, is elated after his beloved Ballyhale Shamrocks overcame a brave challenge from Bennetsbridge in a thrilling contest at Nowlan Park.
Shamrocks opened with storm force and threatened to sweep their opponents aside, but the men from the ‘Bridge turned in a powerful second half, culminating in a pulsating Kilkenny Senior Hurling Final.
It initially seemed as if the game would be a one-sided affair when young Brian Cody shot a 36th minute point to push Shamrocks 2-14 to 1-09 clear.
Just minutes earlier, Brian Lannon had scored a goal for Bennettsbridge to bring them back within shouting distance of the opposition.
But after the ‘Bridge powered on and out-scored the Shamrocks by 1-3 to 0-1 during the following six minutes with Lannon shooting a second goal, the contest was opened up again.
The divide was down to 2-15 to 2-12, but Shamrocks never flinched. A great point from Ronan Corcoran helped them through their most difficult period of the match.
And when Eoin Reid took a pass from his brother TJ to up the gap to 2-17 to 2-12 heading towards the closing 10 minutes, the Shamrocks 16th championship win looked certain. Bennettsbridge chased hard to the finish, but they never looked like saving the game and adding to their last championship success which was way back in 1971.
Led by the brilliant TJ, Ballyhale blitzed the opposition from the start. Reid contributed 1-04 as the Shamrocks galloped eight points clear within seven minutes of the start.
The ‘Bridge opened their account through free taker, Nicky Cleere, but they were always under pressure during this half.
At half-time Shamrocks led by 2-12 to 0-8.
Brian Lannon pulled back a goal for Bennettsbridge in the 34th minute, breathing life back into the contest, but despite playing some fine hurling afterwards, it was not enough to deny Henry Shefflin’s men another shot of glory.
Ballyhale Shamrocks: D. Mason; C. Walsh, J. Holden, B. Butler; E. Shefflin (0-01), M. Fennelly, D. Mullen (0-01); R. Corcoran (0-01), R. Reid; A. Mullen (0-01), T.J. Reid (1-10, 0-08f), B. Cody (0-02); E. Reid (0-01), E. Cody (1-01), C. Fennelly (0-01).
Subs: M. Aylward (0-01) for E. Reid; P. Mullen for D. Mullen; J. Cuddihy for E. Cody; G. Butler for E. Shefflin; B. Aylward for B. Cody.
Bennettsbridge: E. Cleere; C. Murphy, R. Lennon (0-01), C. Wafer; E. Morrissey (0-02), J. Cleere (0-02), D. Wafer; K. Blanchfield, D. Blanchfield (0-01); A. Cleere (0-01), L. Blanchfield (0-01), N. Cleere (0-07, 0-06f); D. Walsh, B. Lannon (2-01), S. Morrissey (0-01).
Sub: D. Coyne for D. Walsh.
Referee: P. Cahill (Dunnamaggin).