If there was ever any doubt about Shamrocks Ballyhale and their hunger to keep on winning, there was no doubt come the final whistle on Sunday.
Having trailed most of the game, Shamrocks turned things around and piled on the pressure in the final quarter to emerge 3-19 to 3-15 winners in a scintillating county final clash with O’Loughlin Gaels.
Speaking after picking up his tenth county medal with Ballyhale, TJ Reid says they expected the challenge from O’Loughlin Gaels on Sunday.
“We always have a tough battle with O’Loughlin’s”, Reid told Scoreline after the final whistle.
“They beat us and stopped us from going for five-in-a-row in 2010, the semi-finals in 2015, the county-final in 2016, the under 21s two years ago.”
“We knew that these boys were coming with a massive work-rate and pressure on us”.
Despite a slow start to their league and championship campaign, Shamrocks have shown time and time again why they were defending champions with the ability to dig deep when it’s really needed.
“Today, we dug deep”, said Reid of the victory.
“The character and the hunger was questioned against James Stephens and we dug deep (there) as well. Today, it was the same again. Ballyhale going for four-in-a-row, is the hunger there? We proved that.”
“It was tough, relentless pressure from O’Loughlin’s from start to finish but we knew that they can’t keep that going for the whole game. Well, we were hoping they wouldn’t keep going.”
“In the first half, the space wasn’t there, in the second half the space opened and we knew that there would be a purple patch (in the second half) and we could get on top then.”
“For the second half I thought we dominated the game. They got a few goals which I wasn’t happy with and I’m sure our backs won’t be happy with, they kind of walked in there.”
“I’m very happy. The hunger was the big thing this year and a bit of freshness this year went a long way.”
In terms of freshness, Reid paid particular tribute to Ronan Corcoran.
“He’s (Corcoran) unbelievable at it (digging balls out of nowhere), he’s a divil at it. There could be a ruck there and Ronan always comes out with it. He got a great point in the second half as well. He’s a warrior, loves breaking ball, loves coming off the shoulder.”
“But all those now are leaders of Ballyhale Shamrocks. Those boys were down in the field all year long – Ronan, Brian Butler, Eoin Reid, Colin Fennelly, Brian Cody – those lads were down training last May, June, July. When things got tough today, those boys stood up.”
Shamrocks have a few weeks off before facing Carlow’s Mount Leinster Rangers in the Leinster club hurling championship with a further eye on going three-in-a-row in the Club All-Ireland championships having taken the national title in 2019 and 2020 before last year’s competition was scrapped.