Ballyhale Shamrocks v St.Thomas’: AIB GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Club Championship Final Preview

Kilkenny’s Ballyhale Shamrocks and Galway’s St. Thomas’ will face off in the All-Ireland Senior Club Championship Final this Sunday, in what is a mouth-watering contest.

It is manager Henry Shefflin’s first year in management and what an achievement it would be to win the Tommy Moore Cup.

In 2017, Shefflin retired as a player and is widely regarded as one of the greatest to ever play the game. For his county, Kilkenny, he has won 10 All-Ireland medals, 11 All-Stars, six National Leagues and three Hurlers of the Year. While for his club Ballyhale, he won three All-Ireland titles. Not to mention the two Fitzgibbon Cups he won with Waterford IT, and an All-Ireland for St. Kieran’s College in secondary school. If they win on Sunday, it will be another accolade to add to his lengthy list.

Ever since Shefflin has retired, Ballyhale have not missed a step. Their team is utterly frightening on paper. It boasts brothers Michael and Colin Fennelly, Eoin Cody, who scored 1-4 from play in the semi-finals vs. Ballygunner, Joey Holden and the imperious TJ Reid. Reid is possibly the best hurlers of his generation.

Ballyhale have two Hurler of the Years in their team, which is unbelievable achievement for a club to have. Michael Fennelly won it in 2011 and TJ Reid in 2015.

The Ballyhale Shamrocks have won the most All-Ireland club titles out of any club in the country, and they are going for seventh title on Sunday.

However, their opponents, St. Thomas’ are no strangers to a big day in Croke Park. The Toms won the All-Ireland club final in 2013 defeating Offaly side Kilcormac/Kiloughey 1-11 to 0-09.

You could call it the club’s Golden Generation, as they have won all three of their county titles this decade. In 2012, 2016, and 2018. But in 2016-17, they were knocked out in the All-Ireland Semi-Final by Clare’s Ballyea 1-19 to 2-14.

Their most recognisable players nationwide would Galway captain David Burke and forward Conor Cooney who were both on Galway’s team in the 2017 All-Ireland victory.

One of the prevalent stories surrounding the 2013 final was the fact that six of the Burke brothers were on the panel, and their father John was the managers. As a matter of fact, there was 18 brothers on the 2013 team. The Cooneys, the Kellys, the Murrays, the Sherrys, and the Skehills. This is the essence of the GAA, and it is one of the elements that makes the sport so unique.

Last September, former Limerick manager TJ Ryan joined St. Thomas’ management team and it seems like he is having a serious impact on the team. Sometimes, it can be good for team to get an outside voice in to freshen things up.  

It is one of the most anticipated Hurling Finals in the last few years. The shear amount of talent on the pitch, we hopefully ensure that we are in for a treat on Sunday.

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