Larkin proves the star in Village show


KILKENNY SHC FINAL (REPLAY): james Stephens 1-20 Ballyhale Shamrocks:A STAR show from Eoin Larkin saw James Stephens lift the Kilkenny senior hurling title yesterday at the second time of asking. The Kilkenny forward hit 1-11 as the Village put in a storming second half display to beat Ballyhale Shamrocks in the county final replay at Nowlan Park.

The Shamrocks started the better, opening with points from David Hoyne, TJ Reid and Henry Shefflin (free) but James Stephens didn’t let them get too far in front. By the 11th minute the sides were level, Niall Tyrrell and Eoin Larkin (frees) grabbing a brace apiece to shoot the city side level.

Despite the subdued atmosphere the Shamrocks continued to hold the upper hand when it came to scoring. David Hoyne and Conor Walsh helped themselves to more points, but the lead could have been much greater – Walsh’s point came after Village goalkeeper Derrick Brennan made a great diving save to deny TJ Reid a 16th-minute goal. The gap was up to three points (0-8 to 0-5) when Eoin Reid pointed on 20 minutes, but they were hit by a late rally from the Village’s in-form forward.Eoin Larkin traded points with Eoin Reid, scores which kept the gap at three, before he broke through a cluster of players and poked a low shot past netminder Richie Reid in the first minute of injury-time.

There was still time for Larkin to add a pointed free (his fourth placed score of the half), a strike which gave James Stephens the lead for the first time in the dying seconds of the half (1-7 to 0-9).

The second half opened with a bang – but not in a scoring fashion. Both sides were reduced to 14 men after a skirmish, Jackie Tyrrell and Colin Fennelly sent off by referee Eamon Mansfield. The dismissal seemed to steel Stephens, who worked hard to shut their rivals out of the game. Although Shamrocks closed the gap to a point by the 42nd minute thanks to two Shefflin scores, that was as close as they would get as Larkin hit back to put two between the sides again.

The last 10 minutes saw the city side really put in the hard yards. Backboned by strong displays from John Comerford, Niall McQuillan and Niall Tyrrell they put a stranglehold on the midfield, keeping play moving towards their forwards. Scores from David McCormack, Matthew Ruth, and an inspirational point from Tomás Keogh tipped the Village towards glory. They had a nervous time before getting their hands on the silverware, as Shefflin went for goal from a close-range free, but McQuillan managed to divert the sliotar over the bar. A late flurry of points, ended by two Eoin Larkin scores, was enough to see Stephens back on top.

JAMES STEPHENS:D Brennan; T Keogh (0-1), P Larkin, J Comerford; E Sheehy, J Tyrrell, D Cody; N McQuillan, N Tyrrell (0-3); D McCormack (0-2), R Coady, M Ruth (0-2); E McCormack, E Larkin (1-11, 0-8 frees), D Walton. Subs: R Hayes for Coady (46 mins), J McGrath (0-1) for Walton (58 mins).

BALLYHALE SHAMROCKS:R Reid; P Shefflin, A Cummins, G Fennelly; J Holden, E Walsh, B Aylward; J Fitzpatrick, M Fennelly; C Fennelly (0-1), H Shefflin (0-7, 0-4 frees, 0-1 65), TJ Reid (0-2); D Hoyne (0-2), E Reid (0-2), C Walsh (0-1). Subs: A Cuddihy for P Shefflin (31 mins), M Aylward for Walsh (39 mins); P Reid for Hoyne (53 mins).

Referee: E Mansfield (Cloneen).