Ballyhale v Ballygunner semi-final at Croke Park to go head-to-head with World Cup final

Two semi-finals will be played as a double-header at Croke Park on Sunday, December 18th

The GAA has confirmed a double bill of AIB All-Ireland club hurling semi-finals for Croke Park next Sunday week, December 18th – which means the headline game between Ballyhale Shamrocks and Ballygunner will clash directly with the World Cup final in Qatar.

The widely anticipated contest between the Kilkenny and Waterford champions, a repeat of last year’s classic final showdown, will have a 3.30pm throw-in at Croke Park. Extra-time will be played if required, the winner to be decided on the day.

Galway champion St Thomas’ will play Dunloy Cuchullains from Antrim in the first semi-final, at 1.30pm. Both games will be live on TG4.

The 2022 World Cup final will have a 3.0pm kick-off at the Lusail Stadium in Doha.


According to a spokesperson for Croke Park, the weekend of December 17th/18th had already been agreed for the All-Ireland hurling semi-finals across three grades: TG4 had the TV rights for the Sunday, and there was also an availability issue around Croke Park for the Saturday.

On that Saturday, December 17th, there is a double bill of All-Ireland club hurling semi-finals at junior and intermediate grade, the venues yet to be confirmed. At Intermediate level, Monaleen (Limerick) play Trim (Meath) or Bray Emmets (Wicklow), while Tooreen (Mayo) will play Liatroim (Down); at Junior level, Ballygiblin (Cork) play Commercials (Dublin) or Horeswood (Wexford), and Easkey (Sligo) will play Kilburn Gaels (Britain).

Shamrocks won their fourth provincial hurling title in a row on Sunday, eventually running out 2-22 to 2-19 winners over a Kilmacud Crokes side playing in its first ever Leinster final; Ballyhale had a 14-point lead at one stage but a second-half fightback from the Dublin champions whittled the margin all the way down to a point.

That also kept Ballyhale on course to make some amends for how things finished up last season, when after snatching victory from the jaws of defeat in the All-Ireland club semi-final against St Thomas’, they were hit with a late, late winner from first-time All-Ireland finalists Ballygunner, who also became the first Waterford club to land the coveted title.

Shamrocks haven’t been beaten in Leinster since the 2012 semi-final against Oulart-The Ballagh, though Crokes gave them a real scare, they just about held on.

That defeat to Ballygunner aside, Ballyhale are now unbeaten in their last four Leinster campaigns, and before earlier this year, the previous two All-Ireland campaigns. Indeed in winning their last county title over James Stephens, the club remain unbeaten in knock-out hurling in the county now since October 2017.

Only Ballygunner have taken them down, the Waterford champions winning their third Munster title in four years with another performance of implacable authority on Sunday over Clare champions Ballyea.

Ballygunner were down twice early on, only never surrendered the lead once Patrick Fitzgerald scored the only goal of the game 10 minutes before half-time. The teenager, in his first year out of minor, has been one of the sensations of the championship. A sensational semi-final now beckons.

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan is an Irish Times sports journalist writing on athletics