Dunloy’s Dream Ended by Super Shamrocks

AIB All Ireland Club Hurling Final

Dunloy Cuchullains 1-15 Ballyhale Shamrocks 1-22

Sunday 22 January

Brendan McTaggart reports from Croke Park, Dublin

With less than eight minutes remaining in Croke Park, Dunloy dared to dream.  They were more than a match for their illustrious opponents on the biggest day in the club calendar with just one point between the sides.

The dream never materialised.

Ballyhale Shamrocks proved their pedigree in the closing stages to seal a ninth All Ireland Club title.  In a game of fine margins, the Shamrocks experience of the big occasion shone at the death.  Three points from man of the match Eoin Cody followed scores from Paddy Mullen and Killian Corcoran in the space of two minutes.  Dunloy’s hopes of bringing the Big One to the Village slipped through their fingers in the face of sublime hurling from the Kilkenny side.

Dunloy looked to pick apart the Shamrocks with their short, incisive passing, running through the lines but the Shamrocks were strong in the middle third.  Richie Reid dominant at centre half with Evan Shefflin in top form beside him.

The Cuchullains looked to be defying the bookies once again but they never imposed their own game for long enough.  Their moments of brilliance were too fleeting and against a seasoned team the calibre of Ballyhale, they needed everything to go their way. 

For 20 minutes in the second half, they controlled the game with their defence immense.  Restricting the Shamrocks to scores from free’s or 65’s but they never made any headway into the Ballyhale lead.  A number of efforts dropping short shooting into the goals at Hill 16 that when they look back on, the Cuchullain management team will pin point as the pivotal moment in the game with Ballyhale finding another level.

What a start for the Cuchullains as Ronan Molloy scores a brilliant goal in the third minute

The game itself really couldn’t have started any better for Dunloy with Ronan Molloy’s goal coming in the third minute with the Kilkenny men ahead from an early Joey Cuddihy point.  Keelan Molloy picking the sliothar up in midfield and playing a cross field pass in front of Conal Cunning.  Coby spun Joey Holden and passed to Molloy on the run and he finished emphatically to send the large Cuchullains support in Headquarters into dream land.

The Ballyhale response was typical while Dunloy never capitalised on their great start.  The Kilkenny men rattled over the next three scores while Eoin Cody brought the best out of Ryan Elliott with a rasping drive.

The Cuchullains first point of the final came in the 12th minute, Paul Shiels firing over from distance before Oran Quinn split the uprights.  Sprinting through the heart of the Ballyhale defence before raising the white flag.  The Dunloy faithful found their voice once more as they crept ahead only for Ballyhale to score their major with the next attack.

Conal Cunning sends over one of his seven points during the All Ireland final against Ballyhale.

A high ball into the Dunloy full back line was claimed by Colin Fennelly.  He tried to get free from the Dunloy defence and looked to have over carried before laying the sliothat into the path of Eoin Cody and he finished low below the out rushing Ryan Elliott.

It was Dunloy’s time to respond and with Coby (free) and Nicky McKeague, they restored parity to the scoreline once again with 18 minutes of the half played.

Ballyhale turned the screw in the closing stages of the half however.  Three unanswered scores from Eoin Cody (two) and Shefflin were responded to by a solitary free from Coby. 

TJ Reid split the uprights with a free in the 27th minute, moments after Cody tested Ryan Elliott again between the sticks but the Shamrocks half forward took his tally to 1-3 for the half and opened a four point lead for the Kilkenny men.

Dunloy finished the half well with scores from Seaan Elliott and Coby (free) to leave two between the sides at the interval.

The second half was a game of chess with neither side really taking control.  The Shamrocks relied on TJ Reid’s abiliy from placed ball and while Coby was answering with kind for the Cuchullains, they also fired over points from Eamon Smyth and Keelan Molloy to leave the minimum between the sides going into the final quarter.

Shamrocks Darragh Corcoran in action against Dunloy’s Nigel Elliott

TJ Reid’s fourth ’65 of the second half doubled the Ballyhale advantages as the Cuchullains began to make some questionable decisions with ball in hand.  To a certain extent they let the Shamrocks off the hook with a number of wayward passes and efforts dropping short in a five minute period and the Kilkenny men took full advantage.

They rattled over three unanswered scores in the space of two minutes that was as good as scoring a goal and sapped the life out of the Cuchullain challenge.

Fennelly scored his second point of the final with three minutes remaining to put five between the sides but Dunloy rolled the dice one more time.  Shiels and Cunning (free) firing over as the clock ticked into injury time.

Dunloy needed a goal and landed a number of high ball into the edge of the square but they never looked like troubling the Shamrocks.  The Kilkenny men added further scores to put an unbalanced look on the final score with Eoin Cody, captain Ronan Corcoran, substitute Brian Cody and Darragh Corcoran all finding their range to ensure the Tom Moore Cup goes back to Ballyhale for a ninth time in the clubs history.

Dunloy manager Gregory O’Kane comforts his daughter Ailbhe and son Paidi on the Croke Park pictch after the game

TEAMS

Dunloy: Ryan Elliott; Phelim Duffin, Ryan McGarry, Oran Quinn; Eamon Smyth, Kevin Molloy, Conor Ferris; Paul Shiels, Eoin McFerran; Ronan Molloy, Nicky McKeague, Nigel Elliott; Seaan Elliott, Conal Cunning, Keelan Molloy

Subs: Deaglan Smith for N McKeague (45); Chrissy McMahon for N Elliott (54)

Scorers: C Cunning 0-7 (7fs); R Molloy 1-1; P Shiels 0-2; O Quinn 0-1; E Smyth 0-1; N McKeague 0-1; S Elliott 0-1; Keelan Molloy 0-1

Ballyhale: Dean Mason; Killian Corcoran, Joey Holden, Brian Butler; Evan Shefflin, Richie Reid, Darragh Corcoran; Ronan Corcoran, Paddy Mullen; Niall Shortall, TJ Reid, Eoin Cody; Eoin Kineally, Colin Fennelly, Joey Cuddihy

Subs: Brian Cody for N Shortall (51); Darren Mullen for K Corcoran (59)

Scorers: TJ Reid 0-8 (5 ‘65s 2fs); E Cody 1-5; C Fennelly 0-2; K Corcoran 0-1; E Shefflin 0-1; D Corcoran 0-1; R Corcoran 0-1; P Mullen 0-1; E Kenneally 0-1; B Cody 0-1

Referee: Johnny Murphy (Limerick)

Oran Quinn breaks forward from corner back to score one of the points of the game during the first half.

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