Henry Shefflin collects his 13th All-Ireland medal
Ballyhale Shamrocks (Kilkenny) 1-18; Kilmallock (Limerick) 1-6
Henry Shefflin collected his 13th All-Ireland medal as Ballyhale Shamrock's captured a record sixth All-Ireland club title at Croke Park.
The Kilkenny superstar was winning his third All-Ireland club medal to add to his record ten All-Ireland senior honours and while it remains to be seen whether this will be his farewell Croke Park appearance, it was certainly a occasion to remember.
Selected at centre forward he spend most of the hour on the edge of the square and where he was effective, without being spectacular.
In truth, as a contest the final was woefully disappointing. Appearing in only their second final Kilmallock failed miserably to make any impact. Perhaps they were beset by stage fright but any chance they had to upsetting the favourites disappeared in the first half when they shot ten wides and had a goal controversially disallowed.
The failure of their big name players Paudie O'Brien, Gavin O'Mahony and Graeme Mulcahy to make any impact severely dented their chances. but the day belonged to the Kilkenny champions who frankly didn't have to be at their best to take the title.
Shefflin a winner again
The story of the game is easily told. Ballyhale were far clinical than their opponents who utterly failed to make any impact on the scoreboard. The Limerick champions had little difficulty winning their own puck-out - they only lost one in the opening period - but were clueless up front in the first half.
Backed by the breeze they opted to shoot on sight from distance with disastrous results. Limerick inter county player Paudie O'Brien lobbed over a spectacular effort after 25 seconds but neither he nor his team mates were able to replicate that early effort. They appeared to have a deliberate policy of targeting Ballyhale goalkeeper, Barry Hennessy by means of aerial bombardment.
Again it brought little success through a long punt from Jake Mulcahy was flicked to the net by Kieran Kenneally in the early minutes, but following lengthy discussions with his umpires and listening to some advise coming through his ear piece, referee James Owens disallowed the 'goal' for a square ball infringement.
The key statistic of the first half was Kilmallock's tally of ten wides compared to four for Ballyhale. O'Brien hit four of those wides and just to rub salt into their wounds after the puck out from one of those misses the sliotar was flicked through to Colin Fennelly, who raced through and rifled a shot to the roof of the net in the 27th minute.
One of the other reasons why Kilmallock struggled up front was the excellence of 2015 Kilkenny captain Joey Holden who was outstanding at full back and won Man of the Match. Overall Ballyhale deserved their 1-7 to 0-4 half time lead. The second period was utterly one-sided as Ballyhale completely controlled the contest with captain TJ Reid in sparking form on the flank.
They outscored the opposition 0-11 to 1-2 with Kilmallock failing to score a single point from play after the break. Kilmallock's only respite came five minutes from the end when substitute Robbie Hanley goaled. But overall it was a forgettable afternoon for the Limerick club and their fans.
For Henry Shefflin it was a case of the King is Dead; Long Live the King!
Ballyhale Shamrocks (Kilkenny): R Reid; K Nolan, J Holden, A Cuddihy (0-1); P Shefflin, M Fennelly, A Cummins: C Walsh, B Aylward (0-1); J Fitzpatrick, H Shefflin (0-2), TJ Reid (0-6, 4f); P Reid, C Fennelly (1-3), E Reid (0-3). Subs: M Aylward (0-2) for P Reid ht; T Coogan for Nolan 58m, D Hoyne for Walsh 58m, M Dermody for P Shefflin 59m
Kilmallock (Limerick): B Hennessy; L Hurley, M O'Loughlin, A Costello; L Walsh, P O'Loughlin, K O'Donnell; B O'Sullivan, P O'Brien (0-1); J Mulcahy, G O'Mahony, R Egan (0-1); G Mulcahy (0-1), K Kenneally. E Ryan (0-3, 3f). Subs: P O'Loughlin for Kenneally 25m; R Hanley (1-0) for Egan 45m, C Barry for O'Sullivan 56m.
Referee: James Owens (Wexford)