Up until yesterday the current Ballyhale Shamrocks with their two All-Irelands weren’t even the most successful team in the parish. That honour rested with their elders from a couple of decades ago.
Andy Moloney, joint manager with Colm Bonnar in a backroom team produced in Tipperary and finished in Waterford IT, was asked had the old pictures on the wall been a motivation. "To be fair to Ballyhale they don't have any pictures on the wall. You wouldn't think they've won a county final. But absolutely, it was a driving factor, even for myself as manager and Colm.
“We wanted to be part of a set-up where we equalled what the great team of the ’80s did with the Fennellys. Those names are serial around today; the Reids are still around, all their sons are coming through and they’ve won a third All-Ireland title.”
The most obvious link with Waterford IT was Henry Shefflin, a former Fitzgibbon team-mate of Moloney and a key part in Bonnar's teams whose intentions in relation to returning to Kilkenny's panel have provided a sub-plot.
“Henry?” said Moloney. “ It probably wasn’t his best day at the office. He’s 36 years of age and will make up his own mind on it. He’s been immense for us all year. When we were going through bad patches in the Kilkenny championship, he was the one who stood up. When we came out of Kilkenny, came out of Leinster, he was still our top scorer from play. I think Henry still has a lot to offer Kilkenny.”
Kilmallock manager and former Clare All-Ireland winner Ger O’Loughlin was crestfallen: “Very disappointing – the first half the seeds were sown. We had 10 wides . . . and we needed to be getting five or six of those. And they were score-able. The other days we were taking them.”