Result: 0 11 to 2 21

The Shamrocks are GREEN on Dr. Cullen Park

The colour was green on Dr. Cullen Park on Sunday last. What, with a perfectly good green surface, Ballyhale with their green trimmed jerseys, Henry Shefflin’s side claiming the green light to represent Leinster in the All-Ireland Club Hurling Championship and a fine Boden crowd in the packed stands, green with envy at some of the quality of the Shamrocks performance. This was Ballyhale’s ninth Leinster title and the bookies got their odds right for this one – two to one on – and full value for that. Ballyboden were looking for their first title in only their second appearance at this level. Many of the Boden support in the stand have vivid memories of 2007 when Birr were just a point to the good at the final whistle.

On exit, a nice gentleman turned to some disappointed Boden supporters with the aside that ‘the elements were against ye’. The reference here was to the rainstorm that lashed into the Boden players faces for the second half. This resulted in Boden being kept to just a point in the opening nineteen minutes, whereas Ballyhale used the gale of a wind to close out the game that they were already in considerable control of. They even allowed themselves the luxury of having eleven wides in the opening thirty minutes, when the conditions were good for scoring.

The early exchanges were dominated by Ballyhale and their plan was uncomplicated. ‘Route one’ was the call from Henry on the line. The plan worked well, except for the finishing, which was wasteful. The one exception was the performance of Adrian Mullen, whose first goal opened up a lead that took Boden more than twenty minutes to square. As in the Coolderry game, it was Collie Basquel who led the Boden attack with a brace of fine points. Others to contribute were Niall McMorrow and Shane Durkin whose score came from shear determination to get enough space to fire over. Meanwhile Ballyhale were taking their scores through Eoin Cody, Evan Shefflin and inevitably T.J.Reid. Boden’s freetaker Paul Ryan was unerring from the spot and pointed four times. Half time had the score at 1.09 to 0.08.

Worried faces watched from the stands as horizontal rain lashed into the town goal –  just where T.J. would be aiming in the second half. Now Ballyhale displayed their range of talents and strengths – overhead catching, quality lay-offs, crafty eye-to-ball fetching and a physical strength that allowed them to protect hard-won possession. One observer offered that ‘these lads ates hairy rashers’. Whatever they do, it clearly works. From their display, it will be a brave man who’ll back against them in the semi-final. Again it was Mullen who was their goal man – a quality move that involved T.J. with a deft pass. He made amends for his first half wides with a series of fine points from the spot. Meanwhile Boden worked hard to get the ball into the scoring zone, only to see their attacks foiled by clearances from Michael Fennelly and Evan Shefflin. Just three white flags were raised for the Dublin champions in the second half. Ballyhale are full value for their win – 2.21 is great scoring in December.

The best of luck to them in the provincial semi.

What a year it has been for the squad, a Senior Dublin Title, two great Leinster rounds and not forgetting those extra time sessions and that pulsating drawn game with Kilmacud Crokes. Great thanks are due to the players, Joe Fortune and his team of mentors and assistants.

The Boden side was Gary Maguire, James Madden, Dean Curran, Shane Durkin, Stephen O’Connor, Simon Lambert, Luke Corcoran, David O’Connor, David Curtin, Niall Ryan, Conal Keaney, Conor McCormack, Paul Ryan, Conor Dooley, Paul Doherty, Aiden Mellett, Niall McMorrow, Collie Basquel, Malachy Travers and Paul Doherty.