Ballyhale 1-16; Tullamore 1-8
You could envisage a Croke Park bean counter rubbing his hands with glee after Ballyhale Shamrocks saw off Leinster final first-timers Tullamore in Tullamore on Sunday afternoon to retain provincial honours.
Firstly, Leinster’s team of the decade will take on Newtownshandrum, Munster’s team of the decade, in the All-Ireland semi-final next Spring, a match which Ballyhale will enter as favourites.
Secondly, should the Shamrocks prevail, and barring something cataclysmic in the other semi-final (with the greatest of respect to Dunloy), all-conquering Portumna ought to await at Croker on March 17th.
It’s a fascinating prospect, especially given last year’s goalfest that these two star-studded outfits served up in their semi-final in Thurles.
But Ballygunner’s conquerors shall not be easily overcome in a semi-final that promises the ultimate clash in modern hurling styles: short passing and quick counter-attacking against swarm defence and lethal finishing.
On Sunday last, despite hitting 15 wides, five off the hurl of top scorer Henry Shefflin, Ballyhale won another Leinster crown with the comfort of an eight-point winning margin.
A little like their inter-county counterparts, winning Leinster wasn’t greeted by Ballyhale men with the sort of celebratory abandon that any other club in the province could muster.
See The Munster Express newspaper for full story.