All you need to know: St Thomas' v Ballyhale Shamrocks

SUNDAY 17 MARCH

All-Ireland club SHC final

St Thomas’ (Galway) v Ballyhale Shamrocks (Kilkenny), Croke Park, 2pm

ONLINE

Live blogs on RTÉ.ie and the RTÉ News Now App from 1pm Saturday and 1.30pm Sunday, reports on all games.

RADIO

Live commentaries and updates on RTÉ Radio 1’s Sunday Sport and Sunday Sport from 2pm.

TV

Highlights on Allianz League Sunday on RTÉ2 and the RTÉ Player from 9.30pm. 

Live coverage also available on GAAGO.

WEATHER

St Patrick’s Day looks set to be a cold and blustery day with sunny spells and passing showers, some with hail and thunder. Highest temperatures of 7 to 9 degrees in fresh and gusty west to northwest winds.

For more go to met.ie

A club classic?

Ballyhale head the all-time roll of honour, having captured the Tommy Moore Cup six times, most recently in 2015.

That victory was the cue for the 10-time All-Ireland winner Henry Shefflin to announce his retirement from inter-county hurling with Kilkenny.

Fast forward four years and ‘King Henry’ is back but this time with the bainisteoir bib.

“It’s a lot easier playing,” he admits to RTÉ Sport. “You just get yourself right and look after yourself.

“Managing a team, there’s a lot of things going on around it. A lot of organisation in the lead up to the final.

“That brings its challenges but it’s great to be involved and the lads are applying themselves very well, which makes it easier for us.”

Shefflin has had a flawless first year in charge of his home club, recapturing the Kilkenny senior crown and beating Wexford’s Naomh Éanna, Ballyboden St Enda’s and Ballygunner on the way to Croker.

The Waterford kingpins got closest with a losing margin of five points.

They face a St Thomas’ side who were champions in 2013 and semi-finalists two years ago. 

“Thomas’ are probably the more experienced team,” suggests Shefflin. “We’ve five U-21 players, two U-18, two 19-year-olds, a 20-year-old.

“They (Thomas’) have been there before. They have nine of that team (that won in 2013) and most of the panel were up there, we have only six of that team (2015) and a lot of that panel has gone.

“There’s nothing like that experience of playing there on the big days.”

Galway captain David Burke, his brother Éanna and Conor Cooney are all Galway senior panellists while Shamrocks can call on inter-county stars and present in Joey Holden, Colin and Michael Fennelly and TJ Reid.

Former Hurler of the Year Michael has been battling a knee injury ahead of the clash and is a doubt.

Last year’s draw and replay win for Cuala against Na Piarsaigh brought the excitement back to this fixture after several years of one-sided contests.

St Thomas manager Kevin Lally knows that his team will need to find an extra gear after squeezing past Cushendall in the last four.

“In the last five weeks we’ve worked really hard to right a couple of wrongs,” he told RTÉ Sport.

“We hope now that we’re in a strong position to have a crack at Ballyhale.”