Seven passes, six players... Ballyhale plot their way to as good a team score as you'll ever see 3 months ago

Seven passes, six players... Ballyhale plot their way to as good a team score as you'll ever see

Ballyhale Shamrocks 1-21 James Stephens 2-11

14 men? Is the hunger still there? Can they quieten this Village crowd?

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Can they what.

Ballyhale Shamrocks turned up this Sunday to win their fifth Kilkenny senior hurling championship in a row and they did it with what must be one of their greatest second half performances ever.

James Stephens put it up to them, as they've often done down through the years but they couldn't beat them.

Because when the game was there to be won, when Ballyhale lost Paddy Mullen to a red card just after half-time and when the Village crowd got onto them, from then on, it was hard but it was fair. It was team-play, and at times, it was champagne-like and for a finish, as they stretched clear to win by clear daylight, this was vintage Ballyhale and it was the Shamrocks at their best.

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TJ Reid. What more can you say about the man? All we'll add is it's a good job they only gave out a medal for a man-of-the-match award today because that man's mantlepiece in Ballyhale can't possibly have much more room.

TJ was incredible out there. He caught high-balls for fun, and one of those catches in particular would put an AFL player to shame. He shimmied and shielded and plotted his way to yet another perfect display.

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There's little disputing his man-of-the-match award but on a day like today, on a day when all the Shamrocks were shining, it's fair to say that he was pushed all the way.

Adrian Mullen was un-hurlable in that second half as he brought the perfect blend of physicality and aggression off the ball and subtlety on it.

Eoin Cody was lively and sharp as ever, Darragh Corcoran came out with ball after ball too and to put the icing on the cake, then you had the next generation, the youngest of them all Niall Shorthall gliding past two James Stephen's men for a finish, before closing the day with one more sensational score.

But in truth, they won that game in the third quarter and this score, involving six men, seven passes and a fine finish was Ballyhale at their best. It was as good a team score as you'll ever see.

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Afterwards, TJ was emotional. Even after all these years, it still means as much as ever.

"Paddy Mullen got sent off and that was the time to respond. And we did.

We took over that field in the last 20 minutes. You know, emotional stuff really. Unreal. Those chaps out there are unbelievable," he added.

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"Pure work-rate. The pure character of that team. It's incredible."