'Remember February' - Kings still the kings as Shamrocks reign supreme 3 months ago

'Remember February' - Kings still the kings as Shamrocks reign supreme

Ballyhale Shamrocks 1-16 Ballygunner 0-16

The kings are still the kings.


Ballygunner had their year, they had their moment but, for now anyway, until next time, it's exactly as it was. Ballyhale Shamrocks remain untouched.

Pat Hoban told us afterwards that this was just another game, he told us that this was the same as any other other semi-final but he had to say that really. The celebrations afterwards told a different story.

You should have seen them.

Adrian Mullen pucked the last ball of the day and without even breaking stride he took off his helmet, threw his hurl away and buck-leaped in front of the Shamrocks fans. TJ Reid punched the air. From the highs of the Hogan Stand, Darragh O'Sullivan looked close to tears.


They might tell you otherwise but this one meant everything.

Rivalries are what sport is all about and, from 2019 to Harry Ruddle's moment of madness, from this year's county championships right through to the provincials, Ballygunner had their eyes on Ballyhale and right back at you.

This one was bubbling up to boiling point and today, a cold blustery Sunday in Croke Park, was the day it reached 100 degrees.

It was World Cup final day but, as a hurling fan in Croke Park, there was no place you'd rather be.


It was the tussle we've all been waiting for but you didn't have to wait long, and you didn't have to need a thermometer to see that this one was red-hot from the word go.

The Shamrocks got off to the perfect start, winning a free straight from the throw-in and the Mullen brothers let Mikey Mahony know all about it. Paddy horsed into him before Adrian Came along with a dunt of his own.

There was off-the-ball niggle everywhere, and it only added to the entertainment. Mullen and Leavey. Holden and Hutchinson. Mullen and Power. Cody and Sheahan. Everywhere.


The Shamrocks hared into a 0-3 lead but Ballygunner's purple patch came and, for parts of that first half, they looked like they'd run absolutely riot if given the faintest whiff of an opportunity.

Dessie danced around Holden for two points and the wizard that he is, young Patrick Fitzgerald sliced over two more beauties. Pauric Mahony looked as sharp as he has been all season but unlike Na Piarsaigh and unlike Ballyea, Ballyhale were able to hold back the tide.

Between them, Richie Reid, Darragh Corcoran and Joey Holden did most of the donkey wok. Reid swept up all before him and what more can you even say about Holden?

Dessie is the man of the moment but the full back got in these little flicks we've seen so often down through the years, he caught balls, broke balls, ran onto balls and calmly ran out with them. He was the main reason Ballyhale were able to hang in there when Ballygunner were on top.


"He's an incredible man," said Hoban afterwards. "To me, he was man-of-the-match."

Eoin Cody was the official TG4 man-of-the-match but having been held scoreless in the first half, he wouldn't have been thinking about man-of-the-match awards at half-time.

But he thundered into the game in the second half and his second point, as he soared into the sky before pointing off the back foot, was as good as you'll ever see. Ballyhale were taking over at that stage. Colin Fennelly was winning the scraps and even though TJ had one penalty saved - Stephen O'Keeffe made four point-blank stops - but he was never going to miss twice.

"We weren't going to take no for an answer," Eoin Cody said afterwards. It wasn't going to happen. And it didn't happen.

Ballygunner played their part in that too, with Paddy Leavey and Pauric Mahoney taking on a pair of hopeful point opportunities that they'd usually play into Dessie. They did reduce the lead from four to three, however, which left the possibility hanging in the air that, like last year, there could be one last twist.

"You might have heard me shouting 'remember February,' from the line," says Hoban. They surely did. And they'll remember this one too.

Ballyhale Shamrocks

Dean Mason, Darren Mullen, Joey Holden, Killian Corcoran, Evan Shefflin, Richie Reid, Darragh Corcoran, Ronan Corcoran (0-1), Paddy Mullen, Adrian Mullen (0-1), TJ Reid (1-8f, 1-0 pen 0-165), Eoin Cody (0-2), Eoin Kenneally (0-1), Colin Fennelly (0-1), Joey Cuddihy (0-1)

Subs: Brian Butler for Darren Mullen (inj 2), Niall Shortall for Cuddihy (12 inj), Conor Walsh for Kenneally (58)


Stephen O'Keeffe, Ian Kenny, Barry Coughlan, Tadhg Foley, Shane O'Sullivan, Philip Mahony, Ronan Power (0-1), Conor Sheahan (0-1), Paddy Leavey, Dessie Hutchinson (0-4), Mikey Mahony (0-1), Peter Hogan, Patrick Fitzgerald (0-2), Kevin Mahony (0-1), Pauric Mahony (0-6, 0-4f)

Billy O'Keeffe for Mikey Mahony (48), Harry Ruddle for Patrick Fitzgerald (54)