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'He's an incredible athlete and we didn't have the legs to stay with him'

Glen Rovers captain Graham Callanan and his team-mates were in Tony Kelly’s slipstream at Semple Stadium.

David Noonan battles with Tony Kelly (8) at Semple Stadium.
David Noonan battles with Tony Kelly (8) at Semple Stadium.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

GLEN ROVERS CAPTAIN Graham Callanan paid tribute to Clare and Ballyea wizard Tony Kelly following his match-winning display in yesterday’s AIB Munster senior club hurling final. 

Callanan admitted that 22-year-old Kelly was virtually unstoppable at Semple Stadium as Ballyea romped to a very first provincial title.

His five-star display yielded five points from play and Clare hurling fans are now wondering if Kelly is the best player the county has ever produced. 

Callanan admitted that Rovers couldn’t cope with Kelly and warned that it will take a very good team to stop Ballyea from going on to claim All-Ireland glory in the New Year.

“I think we all know how good Tony Kelly is – we see him with the county all the time and he’s an incredible athlete and we didn’t have the legs to stay with him all the time. He proved it out there with them today and has been all year.

He was unstoppable for us at the moment anyway. It’s a bit different at county level because a couple of fellas might have the legs on him but at club level he’s very hard to stop, absolutely.”

Rovers, to their credit, did salvage some pride in the second half as they came roaring back into contention with two Conor Dorris goals.

Gary Brennan and Graham Callanan Graham Callanan (7) moves in to challenge Ballyea's Gary Brennan. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Behind by 0-4 to 1-10 at the interval, Rovers cut the deficit to three points and were behind by that margin 11 minutes from time before Ballyea finished with a flourish.

“Look we spoke at half-time and said that it couldn’t get any worse and that the only way was up.

In fairness to Conor Dorris he took the whole game by the scruff of the neck and scored 2-1 before any other forward got on the board. We thought that we’d get back into it at that stage but they had too much of a cushion at half time and it was too big of a lead to give a class outfit like Ballyea.

“As I said he’s a class player (Kelly). We couldn’t handle him in the middle and we tried a couple of men. He was unbelievable today.”

And Callanan is backing Ballyea to have a real crack at the Tommy Moore Cup in 2017 – with Galway outfit St Thomas’s providing semi-final opposition.

“There’s no reason why they can’t especially with the likes of Tony Kelly and they’ve a couple of big lads inside who keep on running and work really hard.

“They’re a really fit side and it will take a fair team to stop them.”

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