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Ballyea save their best till last to clinch Clare hurling title against Inagh/Kilnamona

Without Tony Kelly, Ballyea hit four of the last five points to edge out Inagh/Kilnamona.

Niall Deasy's penalty proved crucial for Ballyea (file photo).
Niall Deasy's penalty proved crucial for Ballyea (file photo).
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Ballyea 1-17

Inagh/Kilnamona 1-16

Páraic McMahon reports from Cusack Park, Ennis

A POWERFUL FINISH from Ballyea saw them take the title of Clare senior hurling champions for the third time in their history, edging out Inagh/Kilnamona by a single point.

Appearing in their fourth final, Ballyea tasted success on the big day for the third time. Their 2003 appearance came while they were still in the Senior B ranks but they’ve matched their exploits of 2016 and 2018 by adding the 2021 championship to their roll of honour.

Inagh/Kilnamona who were only formed in 2008 were lining out in the Clare SHC for the very first time, they reached the decider having gone unbeaten in their six championship games. For large stages, it seemed like the Mid Clare outfit were on course for glory but the never-say-die attitude of Ballyea came to the fore once again and saw them claim the Canon Hamilton.

Lining out without All Star Tony Kelly, Ballyea’s renowned spirit came to the fore when the need was greatest and they hit four of the last five points to edge out an impressive Inagh/Kilnamona. In Kelly’s absence, leadership from Gary Brennan, Jack Browne, Pearse Lillis and Niall Deasy was pivotal as the men in Black and Amber brought their typical fighting spirit when the game was on the line.

A dominant second quarter in which they outscored Ballyea four points to one saw Inagh/Kilnamona hold a 1-8 0-9 half-time lead. Their goal came from their first attack, a sideline cut from Cian McInerney was claimed in the air by Aidan McCarthy and although he lost his footing, the nominee for Young Hurler of the Year didn’t lose his composure as he slotted the ball to the back of the net.

Despite the third quarter being a wasteful period for Ballyea where they missed six scoreable opportunities in a five minute window, Inagh/Kilnamona did not punish them sufficiently at the other end. Over the hour, Ballyea would hit 16 wides compared to Inagh/Kilnamona’s eight but when it came to the breaking ball, Ballyea had the better percentage.

By the final water break, just three points separated the sides and it seemed that Inamona were in the healthier position of the two teams. However the first score of the last quarter would turn out to be one of the most important of the day. Pacy Clare senior footballer Aaron Griffin was fouled with referee Johnny Healy awarding a penalty which Niall Deasy duly converted past Pa Kelly to level matters.

Inamona responded with white flags from Aidan McCarthy and Niall Mullins but from here, Ballyea would score five of the next seven scores to ensure that by the sounding of the final whistle they were one point ahead.

For Robbie Hogan’s winners, Jack Browne and Gary Brennan were their star men with Aaron Griffin, Pearse Lillis and substitute Morgan Garry playing their part in a memorable win.

Scorers for Ballyea: N Deasy (1-09 7f 1’Pen 2’65), C O’Connor (0-02), G Brennan (0-02), J Murphy (0-01), A Griffin (0-01), M Garry (0-01), M O’Leary (0-01).

Scorers for Inagh/Kilnamona: A McCarthy (1-07 4f 1’65), D Fitzgerald (0-02), J Guyler (0-02), P Kelly (0-01 1f), D Mescall (0-01), J McCarthy (0-01), C Hegarty (0-01), N Mullins (0-01).

Ballyea

1. Barry Coote

4. Cian Meaney
3. Paul Flanagan
2. Peter Casey

5. James Murphy
6. Jack Browne
7. Brandon O’Connell

8. Gary Brennan
9. Stan Lineen

12. Cathal O’Connor
11. Pearse Lillis
10. Cillian Brennan

15. Aaron Griffin
14. Niall Deasy
13. Mossy Gavin

Subs:

21. Morgan Garry for C Brennan (44)
19. Martin O’Leary for Gavin (51)
31. Ryan Griffin for Lineen (55)
18. Aonghus Keane for A Griffin (56)

Inagh/Kilnamona

1. Pa Kelly

2. Colin Shannon
4. Keith White
3. Cathal McConigley

10. Kevin Hehir
6. Jason McCarthy
9. David Fitzgerald

11. Conner Hegarty
8. Darren Cullinan

5. Seamus Foudy
15. David Mescall
12. Niall Mullins

7. Cian McInerney
14. Aidan McCarthy
13. Josh Guyler

Subs:

22. Gerry Coote for McInerney (HT)
27. Shane McInerney for Coote (52)
17. Conor Tierney for Mescall (54)
20. Evan McNamara for Guyler (58)

Referee: Johnny Healy (Smith O’Briens)

About the author:

Páraic McMahon

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