Croke Park heartbreak for Dunloy as Ballyhale Shamrocks win All-Ireland Club Hurling title

Dunloy’s agonizing wait for an All-Ireland club title goes on after their fifth final defeat here to Ballyhale Shamrocks.

espite drawing to within a single point with ten minutes to go, a little bit of white line fever gripped the Antrim men who hit a succession of aimless balls towards the forward line in the closing stages.

Meanwhile, Ballyhale Shamrocks stretch their lead at the top of hurling’s club All-Ireland titles with their ninth Tommy Moore Cup.

Some All-Irelands are won in style, and while the Kilkenny and Leinster champions had moments, this was a game won by scrappy means when required, perhaps forced by a pitch that felt like they were playing on a gravel surface.

This may now avenge last year’s loss to Ballygunner when they were going for three-in-a-row, interrupted by the one year break for Covid.

The writing was on the wall in the first half when all the factors were totted up. Ballyhale had 19 scoring chances alone. They found Dunloy captain Ryan Elliott in inspired form in goal, denying Eoin Cody twice in one on one situations and also blocking Niall Shortall’s route to goal.

The third minute featured a Dunloy goal, Conal Cunning offloading to Ronan Molloy who despite being completely outnumbered, still wriggled into enough space to send a shot whistling past Ballyhale goalkeeper Dean Mason.

It took another 10 minutes for their next score, an inspirational one from Paul Shiels. In the meantime the Kilkenny kingpins had two from TJ Reid, one a special from play from the Hogan Stand, a Joey Cuddihy minor and Colin Fennelly.

As a result of Dunloy moving the chess pieces around the board, it left Evan Shefflin free and his deliveries routinely had the Dunloy rearguard beleaguered. While Dunloy drew level, 1-4 apiece, through a Nicky McKeague point on the quarter-hour mark, there was too much space afforded to Ballyhale, typified by a quick free from TJ Reid to Shefflin who was able to grab a point in plenty of space.

They went in at the break, 1-9 to 1-7 ahead of the Ulster champions.

Dunloy switched to a short puckout strategy in the second half but still got little return from their policy of raining in high balls. They brought themselves to within a point with ten minutes on the clock but a trio of points in two minutes from Eoin Cody, Paddy Mullen and Killian Corcoran left them in significant comfort for the final dash.

BALLYHALE: D Mason; K Corcoran 0-1, J Holden, B Butler; E Shefflin 0-1, R Reid, D Corcoran 0-1; R Corcoran 0-1, P Mullen 0-1; N Shortall, TJ Reid 0-7, 4x’65s’, 2f, E Cody 1-5; E Kenneally 0-1, C Fennelly 0-2, J Cuddihy 0-1

Subs: B Cody 0-1, for Shortall (51m), D Mullen for K Corcoran (59m)

DUNLOY: R Elliott; P Duffin, R McGarry, O Quinn 0-1; C Kinsella, Kevin Molloy, E Smyth 0-1; P Shiels 0-2, E McFerran; R Molloy 1-1, N McKeague 0-1, N Elliott; Keelan Molloy 0-1, C Cunning 0-7f, S Elliott 0-1

Subs: D Smyth for McKeague (45m), C McMahon for N Elliott (54m)

Referee: Johnny Murphy (Limerick)

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