This Sunday, Kilkenny’s hurling enthusiasts will witness a titanic battle for supremacy as O’Loughlin Gaels take on reigning champions Ballyhale Shamrocks in the Kilkenny Senior Hurling Championship final. The showdown, already steeped in history, promises to be a fiercely contested encounter that fans will talk about for years to come.
Despite some belief that Shamrocks might enter the final as underdogs, O’Loughlin Gaels manager Brian Hogan dismissed this notion. Hogan, who won four county titles, while losing a final to Shamrocks in 2006, expressed his disbelief at the suggestion. “I don’t pay too much heed to the odds and who are the underdogs,” he remarked. “I don’t know how anyone could question the Shamrocks and how they could ever be considered underdogs, with what they’ve achieved over the last number of years and decades. So that is bizarre”
See also: “The majority of pundits have said that Ballyhale would not win this year’s county final” Shamrocks manager Pat Hoban looks ahead to Kilkenny county final
Hogan’s comments add an intriguing layer to the narrative leading up to the final. His admiration and respect for Ballyhale Shamrocks are evident, emphasizing that he has always seen them as the team to beat. This perspective sets the stage for a clash where neither team will be willing to concede an inch.
The history between these clubs adds spice to the upcoming battle. Over the last two decades, O’Loughlin Gaels and Ballyhale Shamrocks have faced off in the championship final on three occasions, with each team claiming victory once and Shamrocks securing their most recent title in 2021.
The last encounter in the championship final took place on November 7, 2021, at UPMC Nowlan Park in Kilkenny. Ballyhale Shamrocks emerged victorious with a 3–19 to 3–15 win, securing their 19th championship title overall and a remarkable fourth title in succession. This victory underscored the Shamrocks’ dominance in Kilkenny hurling.
However, O’Loughlin Gaels’ triumph in 2016 is a reminder that they are a force to be reckoned with. On October 30, 2016, they secured the championship with a 0–19 to 1–12 defeat of Ballyhale Shamrocks in the final.
As the two giants prepare to collide once again, the anticipation is palpable. The championship final between O’Loughlin Gaels and Ballyhale Shamrocks is not just a battle for the title; it is a clash of legacies and a testament to the rich hurling tradition in Kilkenny.
For those unable to witness the action live, KCLR will be broadcasting the game on Sunday, with thanks to Gerry Comerford Drilling and Eugene Foley Construction. As the hurling world turns its gaze to this historic final, fans can expect nothing less than a thrilling showcase of skill, determination, and the indomitable spirit of Kilkenny hurling.
Get a preview for the final on The Kilkenny Hurling podcast below: