Kilkenny People – John Knox
Ballyhale Shamocks have scored many a thrilling win in their time, but few would compare with this tremendous victory in the Roinn A under-21 hurling final at Nowlan Park today.
With time almost up the winners were a goal down, but chasing and battling for every ball as James Stephens looked set for a famous victory.
And then it all happened. The class performer with No. 17 on his back, Eugene Aylward, drilled in a free from midfield.
There was a scramble in front of The Village goal at the city end, and from the midst of a forest of players Shamrocks brilliant centre-back, Evan Shefflin touched the ball into the net from the edge of the square.It was level, 0-16 to 2-10.
On the action roared and on 62 minutes the tenacious Patrick Doyle robbed possession off an opponent near midfield. He was fouled, and up stepped Evan Shefflin to drill over the winning point.
The win puts Shamrocks on top of the Roinn A roll of honour with eight victories, this one being their first since 2006.
Shamrocks fielded without the Mullan brothers, Darren, Kevin and Adrian, but if they lost a mountain of talent there, the squad simply drove on. The door opened for Eugene Aylward, Martin Davis and Ronan Hayes to come into the team, and all performed well, with Aylward an absolute star.
The Village, playing against the wind, looked very threatening early on when points from Tadhg O’Dwyer (3) and goalie Gavin Costigan took them into a 0-4 to 0-1 lead.
A goal from Eoin Cody in the 14th minute reversed positions (1-3 to 0-5), but it was nip and tuck from there to the rest.
At half-time James Stephens led by 0-9 to 1-5, the dividing point being scored by Liam Rafter in the 29th minute.
The scores were level twice during the following 10 minutes. Even after they had a man red carded in the 47th minute The Village regrouped and managed to open out a strong 0-16 to 1-8 lead. They did so with a mighty, spirit lifting point from a huge distance by Conor Browne being their last score.
Brave, brave Shamrocks just wouldn’t give in. Eoin Cody sneaked a point from a free. Evan Shefflin rifled over another from 70 metres, and suddenly it was a one score game.
When push came to shove at the finish, driven Shamrocks found lots and a dazzling finish earned them a spectacular success.
SCORERS: Ballyhale Shamrocks – Eoin Cody (1-7); Evan Shefflin (1-2); Eoin Kenneally, Martin Davis (0-1 each). James Stephens – Tadhg O’Dwyer (0-6); Liam Rafter, John McEvoy (0-2 each); Gavin Costigan, Conor Browne, Niall Brassil, Luke Scanlon, William Spencer, Ross Whelan (0-1 each).