Ballyhale Shamrocks 6-21
Naomh Éanna 4-11
Ronan Fagan reports from Innovate Wexford Park
COLIN FENNELLY SHOWED himself to be the master executioner when blasting 4-4 to power Ballyhale Shamrocks through to their first Leinster Club SHC decider since 2014 at the expense of Wexford champions Naomh Éanna.
But Ballyhale had to overcome an electrified opening by the underdog at Innovate Wexford Park as Cathal Dunbar scored two early goals to put the Gorey club into a 2-1 to 0-1 lead after just eight minutes.
Dunbar got on the end of a delivery from Conor McDonald to lash a ground stroke to the net in the sixth minute before the corner-forward fastened onto a loose Ballyhale puckout to race through for his second goal just two minutes later.
Ballyhale were finding their groove, and they profited from a defensive lapse by Gorey which gifted Eoin Reid a 14th-minute goal which shaved the difference to 2-2 to 1-4.
While Gorey wing-back Jack Cullen responded with a sweet point, Ballyhale were trending favourably after Colin Fennelly outpaced the defence for his first goal, edging them into a 2-4 to 2-3 lead on 18 minutes.
Gorey were unrelenting but Ballyhale had a definite edge, and two points apiece from Brian Cody and TJ Reid during the closing stages stretched the margin to 2-9 to 2-6 at the break.
Colin Fennelly went close to netting on the resumption before proceeding to follow an exquisite point from the right wing by mesmerizing the Gorey defence with two quick goals in the 35th and 36th minutes which eased Henry Shefflin’s charges clear by 4-10 to 2-7.
And Eoin Cody got amongst the goals on 42 minutes to extend Ballyhale clear by 5-13 to 2-7, before Colin Fennelly was fed from a TJ Reid free to power home his fourth goal on 58 minutes.
Conor McDonald derived some consolation for hard-trying Gorey with a goal from an injury-time penalty.
But Ballyhale Shamrocks well and truly illustrated that they are in rude health again as they chase a first outright All-Ireland club success since 2015.
Scorers for Ballyhale Shamrocks: Colin Fennelly 4-4, TJ Reid 0-6 (1 ’65, 1f), Eoin Cody 1-1, Eoin Reid 1-0, Adrian Mullen 0-3, Brian Cody 0-2, Ronan Corcoran 0-1, Evan Shefflin 0-1, Richie Reid 0-1, Darren Mullen 0-1, Jody Cuddihy 0-1.
Scorers for Naomh Éanna: Cathal Dunbar 2-3, Pádraig Doyle 0-6 (3fs, 1 ’65), Jack Cullen 1-2, Conor McDonald 1-0 (penalty).
1. Dean Mason
2. Conor Walsh
3. Joey Holden
4. Brian Butler
5. Evan Shefflin
6. Michael Fennelly (capt.)
7. Darren Mullen
8. Ronan Corcoran
9. Richie Reid
15. Adrian Mullen
11. TJ Reid
10. Brian Cody
of the team
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13. Eoin Reid
14. Colin Fennelly
12. Eoin Cody
21. Gavin Butler for Walsh (50)
24. Mark Aylward for E Reid (50)
23. Joey Cuddihy for A Mullen (54)
18. Kevin Mullen for Butler (57)
22. Paddy Mullen for M Fennelly (58)
1. Barry Kinsella
26. Tom Stafford
3. Brendan Travers (capt.)
19. Lee Kinsella
7. Eoin Conroy
6. Seán Doyle
5. Jack Cullen
8. Aodhán Doyle
9. Gary Molloy
10. Charlie McGuckin
11. Pádraig Doyle
12. Darragh Hughes
13. David O’Brien
14. Conor McDonald
15. Cathal Dunbar
17. Jack Cushe for Kinsella (21)
18. William Cullen for Hughes (38)
23. Conor Hughes for O’Brien (45)
Referee: James McGrath (Westmeath).
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