GAA

'To Play Football And Hurling, All We Are Is Hurling And They're Both, It's Just Amazing'

'To Play Football And Hurling, All We Are Is Hurling And They're Both, It's Just Amazing'

Ballyhale marched on to the All-Ireland Senior Club Hurling Championship final after a thrilling five-point win against Slaughtneil in Newry.

It was a tight game throughout, one much closer than had been expected before throw-in. This was the first time Slaughtneil played in an All-Ireland hurling semi-final without also being involved in the football equivalent. The club has won seven Derry SHC titles in a row and also won four consecutive county football titles between 2014 and 2017.

"They are a fantastic club," Fennelly said of his side's opponents.

We had a meeting with Henry [Shefflin] a week ago in preparation. We talked about Slaughtneil and just everything they've won, everything they've done. It's absolutely amazing. You wouldn't actually know it until you see it on a board in front of you.

You see it out there today, what exactly they are. To play football and hurling, all we are is hurling and they're both, it's just amazing.

It's hard going, but it's an All-Ireland semi-final, it's not supposed to be easy.

The 2019/20 club campaign has seen change to the schedule of previous years. Rather than the semi-finals being played in February and the final on St Patrick's Day, they have been moved to January.

"We had our preparations and worked hard over Christmas," said Fennelly.

"To be fair to Henry, he gave us as much time with our families as possible, but he has to put us on days where we don't want to train. But we're all training, we're all there.

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"To be fair, the lads put in a serious effort over the Christmas. It was a strange and different Christmas but it had to be done this year. We're delighted to get through today."

The Ballyhale club has been hit by tragedy in recent times. Eoin Doyle died in a motorcycle crash in 2018, while Eugene Aylward died in a car crash last year.

"I spoke to Johnny Doyle," said Fennelly.

"He sent Henry an email - he's Eoin Doyle's father. The Aylward family in general, they just spoke about driving the whole thing on, that there's no point training over Christmas and all that and not driving it on as much as we can.

"We probably didn't play as well as we can today, but that's because of Slaughtneil. They worked so hard that we weren't able to play."

See Also: Kilcoo's Daryl Branagan Feared He Wouldn't Be Allowed Home After Black Card

PJ Browne
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