Shanballymore 5-29 Austin Stacks 1-6.
Last Sunday we entered unfamiliar territory when we made the journey to the village of Killeedy in Co.Limerick for our much anticipated Munster junior B hurling quarter final. Not knowing much about our opponents Austin Stacks we entered the game expecting a fierce battle but after our first goal was scored after 10 minutes we were well on our way to one of the biggest wins in the history of our club.
From the throw in we were to show savage hunger and determination that Austin Stacks could not match. Our first point came from a Jamie Sheedy free and over the next ten minutes we hit Stacks for four more points from Colman O’Reilly(0-2), Haulie Burke and Brian O’Reilly. In between this flurry of points we lost our corner forward Vincent Burke when he collided with a Stacks player, unfortunately Vincent was unable to play on. With news after the game confirming a serious shoulder injury which will keep him out for a few weeks. We all wish him a speedy recovery and hopefully he will have a Munster final or All Ireland semi-final to look forward to on his return.
Vince was replaced by his brother Paul and what an impact he was to have as he went on to lead the Stacks defence on a merry dance with some outstanding scores from play. Paul struck for the first goal of the game after some good build up play from the O’Reilly brother’s Colman and Brian. Moments later Eoin O’Regan played a great pass down the wing to Paul and he obliged with a sweet strike from a tight angle.
At this stage Stacks were in big trouble and finding it hard to get the ball beyond our midfield where Haulie Burke and Jerome Fitzgerald were in total control winning possession and feeding great ball to the forwards. They had their first score from a pointed free when they had a rare attack but we had our second goal when a long ball by influential center back Sean lynch was won by full forward Jonathan Dennehy, who turned sharply and buried the shot from close range. This was Jonathan’s first start in the full forward position for a few years and no doubt the full back will remember this game for a while as he was hassled for every ball that came into the square with Jonathan putting in a work-man like performance over the hour.
Stacks had another point from a free in the 20th minute but with our inside back line of Eoin McHugh, Richard Burke and Alan Sheedy playing outstanding and in no mood to give out any early Christmas presents Stacks found it almost impossible to break us down. We had four quick points on the trot from Captain Brian O’Reilly(0-2), Colman and Haulie. Our third goal was scored in the 24th minute when some great play by wing back Padraig Fitzgerald saw him place Brian O’Reilly out with a pin point pass and he in turn found his brother Colman who blasted to the net from the 21 yard line giving the Stacks keeper no chance.
From here to half time we kept up the relentless scoring and with some great movement in our forward line the Stacks back line were at time chasing shadows, we added eight points to their two with our points coming from Haulie Burke(0-3), Jonathan Dennehy(0-1) and Jamie Sheedy with (0-4). Jamie had two from play and put over two frees from very tight angles which has been a great feature of his game this year. At half time we had built up an unbelievable lead of 3-18 to 0-4 and the game was well over as a contest but this group of players along with the trainer and selectors were not for letting the foot off the peddle. The players were warned to keep up the pressure and keep up the same tempo as the first half.
The second half was only minutes old when Stacks had a goal from a long ball in to the square and it was pulled to the net by the alert forward. This gave us a little kick start and again we struck some brilliant points with Paul Burke(0-2), Sean Lynch, Colman O’Reilly(0-2) and Jamie Sheedy all getting some impressive scores. We were not letting up on the pressure and again our back line were outstanding in this half with sub James Hayes making some good clearances and along with Padraig Fitzgerald, Alan Sheedy, Eoin O’Regan and Eoin McHugh Stacks were limited to very little for the rest of the game. Our goal keeper Declan Fitzgibbon probably had one of the quietest afternoons in a long time but when called upon he was always alert to any danger, he will know doubt have tougher games between the posts but as always Declan will be ready for what ever is thrown his way.
Darren Roche who slotted in at midfield for the second half had our next point from play when he ran at the Stacks defence and put over a very good point from close range, this was followed by another point from play by the hard working Brian Sheedy who put in a tremendous amount of work all through from his center forward position where he was on hand to work hard and set up scores for those around him.
Colman O’Reilly had his sixth point from play with ten minutes remaining after he was set up by Eamoon Fitzgerald with a neat pass infield where Colman was on hand to slot over. We went on the attack again from the resulting puck out and when Brian Sheedy won possession he found Kenneth Barry in space who picked out Jamie Sheedy who gave the stranded Stacks keeper no chance with a rasper of a shot to score our forth goal. Stacks had no answer to the pressure and we added two more points from Darren Roche and Brian Sheedy.
With time almost up and with Stacks praying for the full time whistle we had our fifth goal when man of the match Colman O’Reilly gathered possession on the wing and he went on a mazy run before placing the ball in the corner of the Stacks net to bring a close to a scoring rout that we by no means expected before throw in. From the resulting puck out referee Mike Sexton blew for full time and we had secured another championship win for 2015.
After the game our players mentors and loyal supporters were treated to some top class hospitality by the host club Killeedy with some much needed refreshments on hand in the club house, they have done a tremendous job in promoting this competition over the last ten years and they deserve so much credit for all their efforts last Sunday where they had every thing organised down to a tee and we were all made very welcome.
Also after the game our own Colman O’Reilly was awarded with the man of the match award and this was a great reward for Colman who put in a great shift scoring 2-6 all from play, we also had some other candidates for this prize with Paul Burke, Sean Lynch, Padraig Fitzgerald and Jonathan Dennehy all playing a great hour of hurling.
We now go on to the semi-final where we will face Clare champions Broadford and this will take place at the same venue next Sunday at 2pm, this will be different test for us as Broadford have some very good hurlers in their team with some young fast forwards who will no doubt give our outstanding back line a good test on Sunday. Last Sunday we conceded very little and this has been a great feature of our play all through this championship with most teams with the exception of Bantry Blue’s finding it almost impossible to score over seven points against us.
With scoring forwards like Colman & Brian O’Reilly, Jonathan Dennehy, Paul Burke, and Brian Sheedy in great form and with Jamie Sheedy punishing everything from place balls we will be hoping that we have a Munster final to look forward to after Christmas.
Again last Sunday it was great to see such a large following of Shanballymore supporters make the trip to Killeedy and it’s great to see the black and red colours along the bank supporting the team in the quest for Munster and All Ireland glory.
A special mention must go to our trainer Jim O’Sullivan and his selectors Tom Palmer, Pat Walsh and Conor Hannon who along with kit man Mick Keeffe have put in a tremendous amount of effort all year and they have left no stone unturned when preparing this team and making sure they are ready for whatever battles come our way. We also offer our thanks to Austin Stacks for a very sporting game and the kind and encouraging words they had for the team after the game.
Team: Declan Fitzgibbon, Richard Burke, Eoin McHugh, Alan Sheedy, Padraig Fitzgerald, Sean Lynch(0-1), Eoin O’Regan, Haulie Burke(0-5), Jerome Fitzgerald, Jamie Sheedy(1-6, 0-4f, 0-1 65), Brian Sheedy (0-2), Brian O’Reilly(0-3), Vincent Burke, Jonathan Dennehy(1-1), Colman O’Reilly(2-6), Subs: Paul Burke(1-3) for Vincent Burke, Darren Roche(0-2) for Haulie Burke, Kenneth Barry for Brian O’Reilly, James Hayes for Richard Burke, Eamoon Fitzgerald for Paul Burke, Micheal O’Donovan, Stephen Donegan, Niall Barry, Brendan Hayes, Robert McHugh, Dave Twomey, Shaun Cronin, Brian O’Regan, Richard Hallinan, Jonathan Linehan,