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Dublin: 6 °C Friday 24 January, 2020

Heard the one about 2 Tipp men bringing a Kilkenny team to Croke Park for a SHC final?

Andy Moloney and Colm Bonnar are masterminding the Ballyhale Shamrocks charge.

Ballyhale Shamrocks manager Andy Moloney has played a big part in the team's success.
Ballyhale Shamrocks manager Andy Moloney has played a big part in the team's success.
Image: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

THE BANTER WILL fly in the Ballyhale Shamrocks camp over the next few weeks as two Tipperary men are joint-managers of the Kilkenny club aiming for All-Ireland senior hurling club glory.

Cross-border rivalry will be put to one side until St Patrick’s Day, but the village of Ballyhale is sure to hum with good-natured wise cracks in the weeks leading up to the Croke Park decider with Kilmallock.

It’s perhaps no surprise that Andy Moloney and Colm Bonnar, both former Tipperary senior players, joined forces to manage the most successful team in the history of club hurling. Both men boast long-standing relationships with Ballyhale and Kilkenny star Henry Shefflin from the days when Moloney was captaining Waterford IT, with Bonnar directing directing operations from the touchline.

Bonnar smiled: “We were only joking about it there – two Tipperary men bringing a Kilkenny team to Croke Park on St Patrick’s Day.

“It’s great to be involved with the lads but there’s a bit of craic alright because there’s huge rivalry between Tipperary and Kilkenny. As the National League starts up we’ll see it even more keenly.”

On a serious note, former Wexford boss Bonnar, who was a member of Justin McCarthy’s backroom team when Waterford claimed a breakthrough Munster SHC title in 2002, has predicted a struggle for Kilkenny in the forthcoming Allianz Hurling League campaign.

He said: “Kilkenny will miss these (Ballyhale) lads early on in the campaign – there’s five or six of these lads well capable of going in and that are on the Kilkenny panel.

“With the retirements that they’ve had, Kilkenny will be short starting out the National League. But we’re delighted we have these lads – they’re an incredible bunch and totally focused now on St Patrick’s Day. Kilmallock are a huge team – a very, very strong outfit and we’ll have to do a lot of ground work with these lads because we’ve seen these fellas in action and they’re well capable of scoring and hurling. It’s going to be a cracker of a game.”

Meanwhile, devastated Gort supremo Gerry Spellman has challenged his players to get back to the business end of the club championship.

Gort suffered All-Ireland semi-final heartbreak for the second time in four seasons on Saturday and Spellman laid down the gauntlet to the Galway kingpins.

He insisted: “They need to dust themselves down and get back at it. Attack the county championship and decide to get back there again.”

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About the author:

Jackie Cahill

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