Ballyhale Shamrocks 2-20 Bennettsbridge 2-17
A fine performance from TJ Reid helped Ballyhale Shamrocks rise to glory in the Kilkenny senior hurling final.
Reid was the man of the hour for Henry Shefflin’s side, scoring 1-10 as they earned their 16th senior county title in a battle with Bennettsbridge.
The Shamrocks wasted little time taking control of the game, with Reid leading the way. He opened his account with a free inside the opening 60 seconds and then, after Eoin Cody picked off a point, broke through the Bridge defence to rattle the net. Reid was just getting going, scoring the next three points to push the red-hot favourites eight points in front in as many minutes (1-5 to 0-0).
A stunned Bennettsbridge shook themselves into action and began to claw their way back into the game. Helped by free-taker Nicky Cleere they narrowed the gap to five (1-7 to 0-5), but just when it looked like they were getting back into the game the Shamrocks raced away again, Eoin Cody gathering a breaking puck-out and blasting it to the net (2-7 to 0-5).
The Shamrocks pressed on from there, shooting more points through Reid and half-backs Evan Shefflin and Darren Mullen, to go in at half-time with a commanding lead (2-12 to 0-8).
Ballyhale kept that tempo going in the early stages of the second half, but a fired-up Bennettsbridge fought back. Stepping up the pace they scrapped back into contention thanks to two Brian Lannon goals in 10 minutes, while a pair of long range points from Enda Morrissey had them breathing down Ballyhale necks by the 45th minute (2-15 to 2-12).
However, the Shamrocks never panicked. Picking things up they hit back, getting a crucial run of scores to end Bennettsbridge’s resistance. Ronan Corcoran, Eoin Reid, Mark Aylward and Colin Fennelly mined valuable points to increase the gap again and lead the team back to winning ways.
Ballyhale Shamrocks: Dean Mason; Conor Walsh, Joey Holden, Brian Butler; Evan Shefflin (0-1), Michael Fennelly (captain), Darren Mullen (0-1); Ronan Corcoran (0-1), Richie Reid; Brian Cody (0-2), TJ Reid (1-10, 0-8 frees), Adrian Mullen (0-1); Eoin Cody (1-1), Colin Fennelly (0-1), Eoin Reid (0-1). Subs: Mark Aylward (0-1) for E. Reid, Paddy Mullen for D. Mullen, Joey Cuddihy for E. Cody, Bob Aylward for B.Cody, Gavin Butler for Shefflin.
Bennettsbridge: Enda Cleere; Conor Murphy, Robert Lennon (0-1), Cormac Wafer; Enda Morrissey (0-2), Jason Cleere (0-2), Darragh Wafer; Kevin Blanchfield (0-1), David Blanchfield; Aidan Cleere (0-1), Brian Lannon (2-1), Nicky Cleere (0-7, frees); Dylan Walsh, Liam Blanchfield (0-1), Sean Morrissey (0-1). Sub: Danny Coyne for Walsh.