AIB Leinster Senior Club Hurling Championship Semi-Final
Naomh Éanna (Wexford) V Ballyhale Shamrocks (Kilkenny)
By Kevin Dillon
Whenever it’s these two counties against each other, there’s always that little bit of added intensity, and that’s no different in the club game either. Kilkenny champions Ballyhale, fresh from their county final victory over a fortnight ago, Naomh Eanna marching on after that win over Camross in the quarter-final.
Shamrocks, managed by hurling legend Henry Shefflin, had three points to spare over Bennettsbridge in the Kilkenny decider in Nowlan Park. The six time All-Ireland club champions started rapidly, leading by 1-05 to no score with less than ten minutes on the clock, TJ Reid, who finished with 1-10, contributing 1-04 of that. Eoin Cody got another goal for the South Kilkenny outfit just before half-time, and they headed down the tunnel ten clear at the halfway point, 2-12 to 0-08.
Bennettsbridge did rally at the start of the second-half, two quick goals bringing the gap to three, but that was as close as they got. Ballyhale went six clear again, and withstood late pressure to take their 16TH Kilkenny county title on a scoreline of 2-20 to 2-17.
Naomh Eanna of Wexford, featuring County Senior Hurler Conor McDonald, had four points to spare over St Martin’s in the Wexford county final. Two goals from McDonald sent the Gorey men on their way, running out 2-11 to 0-13 winners.
Their next challenge were Laois champions Camross in O’Moore Park. The Wexford side found themselves four points down with seven minutes on the clock, but a goal from David O’Brien put Naomh Eanna in control, and O’Brien found the net again to keep it in favour of the Wexford side. Another one from McDonald just before half-time sent them down the tunnel eight points clear, 3-10 to 1-08.
Camross did come back in the second-half, but they never greatly troubled the Wexford champions. A late goal wasn’t enough for Camross, as Naomh Eanna ran out five point winners on the day, 3-18 to 2-16.
So Naomh Eanna will be hoping that their momentum throughout this breakthrough success will send them to all the way through to Croke Park on St Patrick’s Day. This young talented side will fancy their chances and hope to bring that same physicality and talent on Sunday. Ballyhale will no doubt use their experience to try and see them through. This is all set for a cracker.
Date: 18TH November 2018
Venue: Innovate Wexford Park, Wexford