Shamrocks for St Patrick’s Day

Alan Cuddihy, centre with his Ballyhale team mates Henry Shefflin and Michael Fennelly
Alan Cuddihy, centre with his Ballyhale team mates Henry Shefflin and Michael Fennelly

David Hennessy talks to London-based hurler Alan Cuddihy as his team Ballyhale Shamrocks await Kilmallock of Limerick in the All-Ireland Senior Club Championship final on March 17

Ealing resident Alan Cuddihy has made it to Croke Park, joining his Kilburn Gaels housemates Mark O’Dwyer, Luke Gaule and Barry Kiely. Alan’s Ballyhale team overcame a spirited challenge from Gort, defeating them 2-17 to 1-15. Ballyhale will now face Kilmallock of Limerick next month. Another of the house’s residents Damien Brown knows all about Kilmallock as his Cratloe lost out to the Limerick team in the Munster final.

Alan Cuddihy told The Irish World: “Yeah, I actually got off the plane yesterday and one of the first things I said to Damien was, ‘well any tips?’ I’ll suss it out now and ask him what he thinks of it all. He knows better than anyone, I suppose.

“They (Kilmallock)’re very, very strong. I know we’ll probably be favourites in the bookies and all that but I would see them as favourites. They’re a very well rounded team, very strong and they’re able to take their points. A lot of teams will get into those scoring positions and they won’t deliver but these guys have everything. They have a strong team and they can score as well.”

Kilmallock have been gaining momentum eased past Portaferry 2-19 to 0-12: “It’s do or die now, this is it. The last game, there’s no coming back so everything has to be perfect, everything has to be right. We have to be as fit as we can be if we want to challenge these guys because they’re a very good unit.”

Alan was man of the match when Ballyhale Shamrocks won this senior club championship of 2010: “Because we’ve won it before. When you have that feeling, you want it back again. It’s just something you can’t describe and when you’re so close, it drives you on all the more.”

Henry Shefflin was man of the match against Gort but far from Ballyhale's only star performer. Alan gives special mention to Colin Fennelly
Henry Shefflin was man of the match against Gort but far from Ballyhale’s only star performer. Alan gives special mention to Colin Fennelly

Record All-Ireland winner Henry Shefflin was man of the match with five points from play in Ballyhale’s victory over Gort. Ballyhale’s other county players TJ Reid, Michael Fennelly and former Cat James “Cha” Fitzpatrick also featured prominently.

Alan continues: “It was a very physically demanding game. They were up for it as well and their work rate and intensity was savage and they were very, very determined but thankfully we got over the line.

“The county men stood up and other lads stood up as well. I thought Colin Fennelly was absolutely excellent not from a scoring point of view but he helped the backs a lot. We had Conor Walsh and Bob Aylward in midfield and I think they got six points between the two of them so that’s phenomenal. A lot of players stood up on the day when we needed them and that’s what got us over the line in the end.”

Alan, who trains with Kilburn Gaels, saw a couple of the London team’s players there. Keith Killilea of Kilburn’s brother Paul was featuring for Gort.

“Brian Regan and Keith Killilea were there on the sidelines so I went up to them after the game and they congratulated me, fair play to them. It was nice to see. It was a nice touch from the lads.”

The London team play their All-Ireland final this Sunday: “I won’t be able to go back but I’ll definitely be following them. I’d like to wish them all the best, the management and players, and I hope they do it.”

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