Ballyhale Shamrocks 6-22 Clough-Ballacolla 0-14
Leinster Club SHC Final
Croke Park may be a theatre of dreams of sorts but it’s an unforgiving place too.
And Clough-Ballacolla found that out the hard way today when they went down to Ballyhale Shamrocks, the most successful club team of all time, in the Leinster final.
The Kilkenny champions showed their ruthless streak by hitting six goals over the course of the hour to run out comfortable winners and claim their 11th Leinster title.
Ballacolla, having only won their first Leinster club game ever three weeks ago, made the journey to Jones Road as massive 4/1 outsiders and seeking to cause a huge shock.
And though they competed brilliantly for long spells of the first half, Ballyhale’s lethal instinct in front of goal helped them to a 3-11 to 0-10 half time lead.
Young Player of the Year Eoin Cody had got the first goal after just three minutes but Ballacolla responded well to that with Aidan Corby hitting three points in a fine opening quarter, Willie Dunphy two and Lee Cleere.
They were back level by the 15th minute though a Cody point meant it was 1-4 to 0-6 at the first water break.
Colin Fennelly got his first goal early in the second quarter but Dunphy and Corby cancelled it out with points before Fennelly got his second in the 22nd minute.
Ballyhale kicked on from there and outscored Ballacolla by 0-5 to 0-1 from there to half time to have that ten-point cushion at the midway stage.
Having mostly isolated Picky Maher up front in the first half, Ballacolla pushed on a bit after half time but it was too steep a hill to climb.
Adrian Mullen and Brian Cody got goals in the third quarter for Ballyhale and they added a string of points too. By the next water break it was 5-15 to 0-12 and the game was long since dead as a contest unfortunately.
A delightful flick from Eoin Reid completed the goal scoring in the 51st minute and in the end Ballyhale had 27 points to spare.
They now go forward to play St Thomas of Galway in the All Ireland semi-final in January.
For Ballacolla, the curtain comes down on a memorable 2021 campaign.
It wasn’t the ending they wanted but it’s a year they can still look back on with some pride.
SCORERS – Ballyhale Shamrocks: Colin Fennelly 2-1, Eoin Cody 1-6 (0-3 frees), Ronan Corcoran 0-5, TJ Reid 0-5 (frees), Brian Cody and Eoin Reid 1-1 each, Adrian Mullen 1-0, Eoin Kenneally 0-1, Paddy Mullen 0-1, Liam Barron Clough-Ballacolla: Stephen Maher 0-3 (frees), Aidan Corby 0-4, Willie Dunphy 0-3, Lee Cleere 0-1, Brian Corby 0-1, Jordan Walshe 0-1, Cillian Dunne 0-1
BALLYHALE SHAMROCKS: Dean Mason; Darren Mullen, Joey Holden, Kevin Mullen; Evan Shefflin, Richie Reid, Darragh Corcoran; Ronan Corcoran, Paddy Mullen; Adrian Mullen, Brian Cody, Eoin Cody; Eoin Kenneally, TJ Reid, Colin Fennelly. Subs: Conor Phelan for Shefflin (42), Eoin Reid for TJ Reid (46), Conor Walsh for P Mullen (46), Brian Butler for K Mullen (52), Liam Barron for Kennelly (53)
CLOUGH-BALLACOLLA: Cathal Dunne; Eoin Doyle, Darren Maher, Diarmuid Conway; Brian Corby, Mick McEvoy, Lee Cleere; Aidan Corby, Willie Hyland; Robbie Phelan, Jordan Walsh, Mark Hennessy; Stephen Bergin, Stephen Maher, Willie Dunphy. Subs: Ronan Broderick for D Maher (35), Cillian Dunne for Hyland (41), John Dwyer for Bergin (45), Tom Delaney for McEvoy (46), Sean Corby for Hennessy (52)
REFEREE: Richie Fitzsimons (Offaly)