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Crokes can't cope with 'hale storm

SUFFICE to say this didn't reflect Kilmacud Crokes' best work.

And when you fall so far short of your optimum, the only real hope is that the opposition does the same, but when that opposition is Ballyhale Shamrocks, it isn't going to lead to a productive sort of afternoon.

"Sure they have some of the greatest players in the history of hurling, let alone the history of club hurling," shrugged Ollie Baker after his team had gone down by 2-15 to 0-11 to hurling nobility.

"We're desperately proud of our players.

"To get to this stage is no mean feat, but we're just disappointed with the end result and the fact that that wasn't a true reflection of what those players are and the type of hurlers that they are."

The type of hurlers Ballyhale are, there was never even a feint fear their county final win a Sunday previously would result in any grogginess.

exception

You never watch Henry Shefflin play a match, for example, and surmise that he just didn't really fancy it.

So yesterday was no exception.

The great man touched the ball roughly five times yesterday and scored 1-3 from play.

His goal, after five minutes, set an inevitable tone to the afternoon.

Lining out at full-forward, initially in the company of Rory O'Carroll, Shefflin rose to meet a long ball from wing-back Conor Walsh and his deftest of touches altered the flight of the ball sufficiently to sneak past Matt Collins.

At that stage, it was 1-3 to 0-1 and only the most optimistic of Crokes people could envisage a way back to competitiveness for their team.

"We got ourselves back into the game," Baker pointed out.

"But the class that they have, they'd rattle off three points and you'd been three points down, next thing all of a sudden you're six down."

Not that there was much doubt about the result at that point, but a second goal conceded before half-time made absolutely sure.

TJ Reid, a constant menace, left a free short from halfway and Collins misjudged its arrival.

The ball then bounced off his chest and into his own net.

"They're the fine margins that they live on," Baker pointed out.

"They have very few wides in a game. Nearly every chance they have is executed to perfection.

"So you would have to be playing to the best of your ability to have any kind of a chance.

"And offering up a few soft scores at the start wasn't a true reflection of the players that we are.

"And it was just too much to claw back."

Crokes did, in fairness, manage to break even over the course of the second half but you got the suspicion that Ballyhale had another gear, if required.

bonus

Crokes forward Caolan Conway had both of Kilmacud's only goal chances but put the ball over the bar from close range either side of half-time.

"We are happy to be in a Leinster final," reflected Ballyhale manager Colm Bonnar.

"We would have set our stall to win a Kilkenny county final and say everything else is a bonus but once we got out we wanted to do as well as we could.

"We have personnel who can do well in this competition and have done well in it before and it's a case of just recharge the batteries and try and get as much out of them as we can on the day.

"I think today they showed a great appetite for it there were a lot of physical challenges going in. We were tired at half-time but knew they would feel it as well because as much as we were getting hit, our lads were giving it back in the physical challenge and in the end, it dwindled out."

Crokes, meanwhile, were left to reflect on a positive season, albeit one which finished on a bad note.

"The next day that we tog out as a club team again," Baker insisted, "we'll have these painful memories in our arms and in our legs and certainly in our minds.

"And we're going to say, look this is how we need to play hurling if we want to survive and succeed at this level."


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