Ballygunner on the verge of an historic breakthrough

Impressive Waterford kingpins have the wherewithal to end Ballyhale’s reign

All-Ireland Senior Club Hurling final: Shamrocks Ballyhale (Kilkenny) v Ballygunner (Waterford)Croke Park, 3.00 Live, TG4, 2.30

The knock-out nature of the club competitions can throw up quirky results at times.

It’s not unheard of for a team to be in an All-Ireland club final and half their home county watching on thinking they’d surely take them three times out of five. Not this year, though. Ballyhale and Ballygunner are without question the two best club teams in the country. It’s a while since a club final has looked this mouth-watering.

On the one hand, it actually ought to be straightforward enough.


Ballyhale haven’t been beaten outside the Kilkenny championship since Oulart took them in the Leinster semi-final in 2012.

They haven’t lost to a Munster team since the 1979 All-Ireland final defeat to Blackrock – which also happens to be the only time they’ve ever been beaten in the ultimate decider. They are an ocean clear at the top of the roll of honour and All-Ireland finals are where they live.

Against which, no Waterford team has ever won a club All-Ireland. Only two Waterford teams have ever been in a final – and Ballygunner aren’t one of them. And it’s not as if Ballygunner have been knocking on the door – they’ve won 10 of the last 13 Waterford titles and only managed to parlay them into two Munster titles.

Case closed, then? Not a bit of it. drill down a bit and it’s clear that Ballyhale have been creaking. They should have been beaten twice since their Kilkenny title, first against St Rynagh’s and second last time out in the semi-final against Galway’s St Thomas. Even TJ Reid can’t have too many miracles left in him.

Ballygunner's progress has been far more serene, wiping the floor with teams like Kilmallock and Loughmore-Castleiney who would have had pretensions of going all the way. They have been the best team in the competition so far. This is the day to cap it all off. Verdict: Ballygunner

Malachy Clerkin

Malachy Clerkin

Malachy Clerkin is a sports writer with The Irish Times