Ballyhale Shamrocks meet defending All Ireland champions Ballygunnar semi-final stages of the Club All Ireland on Sunday. As we approach our final game of 2022 at KCLR, our 157th live game broadcast, it got us thinking. Has Shamrocks ever lost at the semi-final stages before?
The dominant Kilkenny side last secured their record 8th title in 2020 after besting Borris-Illeigh 0-18 – 0-15 in the final, and of course, since suffered a defeat thanks to a Harry Ruddle goal.
1978–79 All-Ireland Senior Club Hurling Championship
Shamrocks claimed their first county title in 1978, with Captain Dennis Sheflin lifting the Tom Walsh cup after defeating Erins Own 0-15 to -010. Sure didn’t they then go on to claim their first Leinster crown beating Crumlin 1-13 – 1-06 in the final at the then-named Dr. Cullen Park. This set up a semi-final against London-based club, St Gabriel’s, who beat Ulster champions Ardrahan to qualify. Shamrocks comfortably dispatched the English side in Nowlan Park, 4-10 to 1-7. Unfortunately for the relatively new club Shamrocks, they fell in the final to Munster Champions Blackrock losing 5-07 to 5-05 in Semple Stadium.
1980–81 All-Ireland Senior Club Hurling Championship
This would be the first year that Shamrocks could proclaim that they were All Ireland champions. Richie Reid captained the side to their third successive county title in a row, dispatching Muckalee/Ballyfoyle Rovers 3-13 to 1-10 in the final. In Leinster, Dublin, Wexford and Offaly stood in the way of a second Leinster Championship. St. Brendan’s was up first in the quarter-final, traveling down to Nowlan Park from the capital city only to lose by 12 points. Rathnure proved to be tougher opposition, forcing a replay to be played in Geraldine Park, Athy. Shamrocks won by a single goal, 2-10 to 1-10 progressing to a final against Coolderry of Offaly just 11 days before Christmas. Another win, brought with it a second Leinster title, and a semi-final meeting with Ulster champions McQuillans. Shamrocks made the long trip to Antrim in April, over four months after the end of the Leinster championship. They came back to Kilkenny with a booking for an All-Ireland final. Two times All Ireland Champions from Cork, the star-studded St. Finbarrs stood in the way of Shamrocks and their all-country success. It was no doubt a special occasion for the Fennellys, with all seven brothers lining out on the day. At the full-time whistle, Ballyhale were the winners by 0–15 to 1–11 and Brendan Fennelly finished the top scorer of the competition with 1-30 scored across six games. Just like that 3 county titles, 2 Leinster crowns, and one All-Ireland title.
1983–84 All-Ireland Senior Club Hurling Championship
After losing in the Leinster semi-final the year before to St. Ryanaghs, Shamrocks certainly had a point to prove this time around as they blew thru Meaths Kiltale in Trim, winning by 5 goals on a scoreline of 6-10 to 1-10. This was followed by a 14-point win over Erin’s Isle of Finglass in the penultimate clash, before winning 3-06 to 0-09 points against Kinnity in the final. Shamrocks had to make a trip to Navan to play the now-named Ballycastle McQuillans, Ulster champions, a different name but a familiar result. What was unfamiliar though was Connacht opposition, as Gort awaited in the final. Shamrocks were without the services of Liam Fennelly who sustained a leg injury playing for Kilkenny against Waterford. With Shamrocks trailing at halftime, Fennelly was brought in spite of his injury. This helped force a replay which wasn’t played for another seven weeks. In the end, Shamrocks secured their second All-Ireland title with Ger Fennelly scoring the only goal in the game, winning 1-10 to 0-07.
1989–90 All-Ireland Senior Club Hurling Championship
It was 1989 before Shamrocks won Leinster again, scoring 2-11 to Cuala’s 0-07 in the final. At this stage, the club had claimed eight county titles, but that dominance had only lead to three Leinster titles. Claiming the fourth many thought would be significant, however, it would be 17 years before they did it again(2006). That belief was no doubt raised another Tommy Moore Cup in their back pocket. As would winning the whole thing indicate, Shamrocks were obviously successful in the semi-final this time against Sarsfield 2-08 to 0-12 points. Shamrocks then recorded 1-16 to 0-16 defeat of Ballybrown in the final to make it add a third All Ireland title to their mantle on St. Patricks Day.
2006–07 All-Ireland Senior Club Hurling Championship
It was 17 long years before Shamrocks next won a Leinster title, in contrast to their first 17 years where they claimed four. In fact, their last county title came in 1991 before this season. Of course, the emergence of ‘Cha’ Fitzpatrick, Henry Shefflin, Micheal Fennelly, and a young TJ Reid helped immensely with putting an end to the drought. Shamrocks beat Rathnure in the semi-final before winning the provincial championship with a comfortable 1–20 – 1–8 over Birr. A semi-final berth awaited against Tipperary club Toomevara in O’Moore Park with the Marble City champions claiming a 2-20 to 3-14 victory. Loughrea were the opposition for the final, with Shamrocks leading by 10 points with 15 minutes to go, proving the bookies correct.
2008–09 All-Ireland Senior Club Hurling Championship
So here we are the only time Shamrocks have lost an All Ireland semi-final in convincing fashion, having lost the Leinster semi final to Birr in the previous seasons campaigns. In Leinster ,Shamrocks ran thru Rathdowney, Ratharney and Birr suffering their wrath in the Leinster final. However eventual winners , Portumna put them to their sword, scoring an impressive 5-11 to Shamrocks 1-16. Already the bookies favourite, Portumna went into the game against De La Salle, as virtually unbackable at 1/7 to claim another All-Ireland. Bookies were right, the Galway side won 2–24 to 1–8 infront of 32,000 in Croke Park.
2009–10 All-Ireland Senior Club Hurling Championship
Here is the redemption story, at the time their was nothing more mouth-watering then the thoughts of Shamrocks meeting Portuma again. The build-up to the opening of the championship was dominated by Portumna and the possibility that they would become the first club to win three All-Ireland titles in-a-row, and a remarkable fourth in five championship seasons. Of course it all had to start in the Kilkenny championship, with James Stephens coming up short by three points, as Shamrocks claimed four-in-a-row county titles, with the possibility of becoming the first club to win five All Ireland titles on the line. Mick Fenelly lead Shamrocks to more provincial success, with Tullamore on the receiving end of an eight point loss in the final. Cork’s Newtownshandrum and Antrim’s Dunloy, stood in the way of the final that most neutral wished for. Both sides fell to the would be history makers, and with that Portumna and Shamrocks was set in stone. The tension was in the air and seem to inspire Alan Cuddihy, Shamrocks right back who grabbed a man of the match award for his performance that seen Captain Eamonn Walsh proudly showcase a record breaking fifth All Ireland title over his head in the stands at Croker.
2014–15 All-Ireland Senior Club Hurling Championship
After the fifth title Shamrocks had to wait five years for their next All Ireland Championship game. Winning just the one Kilkenny title in 2012, triumphing over Dicksboro, before bowing out at Leinster at the hands of Outlart The Ballagh 1-11 – 1-10 in the semi final. The next county championship came at Clara’s expense in the final, with Kilmacud Crokes well beaten in the Leinster semi final. Extra time was ultimately needed to beat Kilcormac/Killoughey in the final, but it was another O’Neill cup regardless. Gort would be the next victim to the Shamrocks at the semi-final stages, with the Galway club losing by five points. After killing off Kilcormac/Killoughey in Leinster, the Kilkenny side needed to take the scalp of Kilmallock. They did so in devastatingly clinical fashion, winning 1-18 to 1-06, allowing a 13th All-Ireland senior hurling medal for Henry Shefflin.
2018–19 All-Ireland Senior Club Hurling Championship
The 49th staging of the All-Ireland Senior Club Hurling Championship can only begin with the start of County Championships. With Shamrocks claiming yet another number to add to their record as they etched closer to Tullaroan’s marker of 20 titles. This time the man at helm was the one and only, Henry Shefflin, who lead his side to a three point victory over Bennettsbridge in Kilkenny decider Nowlan Park. They then went onto to blow Ballyboden St. Enda’s out of the water with a 2-21 to 11 point victory in Dr. Cullen Park. Shamrocks then traveled to Munster to meet the province champions, soon to be friends, Ballygunner. A 0-13 to 1-15 win, secured another final at Croker on St. Patricks Day. Take your points is an age old adage in hurling, and Shefflins men certainly did put over 2-28 to St. Thomas’s 2-11. There was false dawns before, wins followed by lull periods, but this felt different.
2019–20 All-Ireland Senior Club Hurling Championship
Shamrocks swaggered to another Leinster title, with the no mercy performance against St.Martin’s in particular a standout, 5 goals and 18 points oh my. St. Mullins put in a brave effort in the final, but ultimately fell to a nine point defeat. Slaughterneil proved to be even tougher opponents in the semi final, with only 5 points between them. This was the shortest margin between a side Shamrocks faced since Clara in the county quarter finals. Borris-Illeigh looked to change that, which they did, however not enough to swing the tide in their favour, losing out 0-18 to 0-15. With that Michael Fennelly raised the cup as stalwart T. J. Reid finished the championship’s top scorer with 2-53
2021–22 All-Ireland Senior Club Hurling Championship
Covid caused havoc over the whole world, and reached everything, including the GAA. The 51st All Ireland club championship came into effect a year after originally scheduled, but the fact remained the same Shamrocks were on for three-in-a-row. They all ready secured four in a row in their home county, three in a row in Leinster, so why not another consecutive title to add to the mix. In Leinster, they got the better of Mount Leinster Ranger in the quarters, St. Ryanghs after extra time in the semis and demolished Clough Ballacolla in the final. The semi final was another incredibly tough test against St. Thomas, with a late TJ Reid free going in the back of the onion net, allowing a single point victory to advance to the final against Ballygunner. It was the first time the two sides would meet in the final, with Ballygunner gunning for their first All Ireland crown. In a cruel turn of faith, Shamrocks themselves were outdone by a late goal at the hands of Harry Ruddle, losing 2-17 to 1-19.
So the too long didn’t read version, Shamrocks have claimed 8 All Ireland titles, double what their closest rival has. They have made 11 appearances in the latter stages of the competition, losing only the once at the semi final stages and twice in the final.