Galway county champions Gort tried hard, but ultimately fell short in the All-Ireland semi-final against an experienced Ballyhale Shamrocks outfit last weekend in O’Connor Park in Tullamore.
The Gort men went out of the All-Ireland series by 1-15 to 2-17, and they can have no complaints. They were beaten by a superior team.
The Kilkenny champions hit 2-16 from play and both midfielders, Bob Aylward and Conor Walsh, notched six points between them from play.
Eleven-times All-Star Henry Shefflin was named man of the match on the back of a vintage display and he notched 0-5 from play and read the game with aplomb.
Gort were overly dependent on Richard Cummins for inspiration up front and they will need to find some serious support for him from an attacking perspective if they are to make the breakthrough into an All-Ireland final over the coming few years. However, they have a host of youngsters on their panel and hopefully a few of them will step up to the senior mark over the coming two or three years.
Ballyhale were a bit more sophisticated up front than Gort, and with the quality of players at their disposal all over the field, they were able to punish any errors from the Galway men.
The five-times champions led by 2-09 to 1-08 at half time and the game was still in the balance.
Gort hit two quick points after half time, but the Leinster champions powered on to a nine-point lead, 2-17 to 1-11. Despite a huge effort by Gerry Spelman’s men, they were not able to rein them in.
Ballyhale will now face Limerick’s Kilmallock, who had a comfortable victory over Portaferry from County Down in the other semi-final, on St Patrick's Day.
Gort go back to the drawing board. However they are young and they have the capabilities to get back to this stage again over the coming few seasons.
They will know that getting out of the Galway championship again in 2015 will be a massive challenge, but the experience of the past year should stand to them.
Gort: Gavin Lally; M McMahon, T Linnane, M Cummins; A Harte, Greg Lally (cpt ) (0-02, 1 65 ), S Linnane; S Forde, Jason Grealish (0-01 ); R Cummins (1-03 ), M Mullins (0-02, 1f ), G O'Donoghue (0-02 ); A Mullins, G Quinn (0-02f ), P Killilea (0-01 ) Subs: Jack Grealish, W Walsh (0-02 ), C Helebert, N Forde, K Higgins.
Ballyhale Shamrocks: R Reid; K Nolan, J Holden, A Cuddihy; P Shefflin (0-01 ), M Fennelly, A Cummins; B Aylward (0-03 ), C Walsh (0-03 ); J Fitzpatrick, H Shefflin (0-05 ), TJ Reid (1-02, 0-01f ); P Reid (0-02 ), C Fennelly (0-01 ), E Reid (1-00 ). Subs: R Corcoran, B Cody, M Dermody, G Butler.