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Dublin: 12 °C Tuesday 13 November, 2018
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Little magician Tony Kelly leads Ballyea to the promised land with their first Munster title

Kelly hit five points from play as the Clare champions saw off Glen Rovers at Semple Stadium.

Image: James Crombie/INPHO

Ballyea (Clare) 1-21

Glen Rovers (Cork) 2-10

Jackie Cahill reports from Semple Stadium, Thurles

BALLYEA ARE AIB Munster senior club hurling champions for the very first time.

In their debut provincial final, the Clare kingpins saw off Cork opponents Glen Rovers by eight points at Semple Stadium this afternoon.

Former Hurler of the Year Tony Kelly was superb for the winners as he collected five points from play, with Gearoid O’Connell also brilliant in the half-back line.

Glen Rovers were left with bitter disappointment following their first Munster final appearance in 40 years.

Trailing by nine points at half-time, Conor Dorris scored two early second half goals as they battled back to within three, but Ballyea pulled away again, with Kelly and O’Connell leading the charge.

Ballyea’s win sets up an All-Ireland semi-final with Galway’s St Thomas’s in February.

And with this growing sense of momentum propelling them forward, there could be more glory on the horizon in the new year for a club breaking new ground.

On a freezing afternoon in Thurles, Ballyea had established a nine-point lead, 1-10 to 0-4, at half-time.

But they were rocked by that Dorris brace and with 11 minutes left, Rovers were just three behind again when Cork senior star Patrick Horgan landed a ’65.

But Ballyea finished excellently, with leading scorer Niall Deasy accurate on placed balls and from play throughout.

In front of 4,593 spectators, the sides were level three times in the opening 12 minutes before Ballyea put some daylight between them.

Pearse Lillis, one of the Clare senior footballers in the Ballyea side, latched onto O’Connell’s pass and left the Rovers defence for dead before cracking home a 13th minute goal.

That assist wasn’t the only good piece of work from O’Connell all day, as the centre back also collected three points from play in a dominant outing.

Wearing number 5, but operating in the central position, O’Connell was immense and with that excellent half-back line platform to work from, Ballyea made hay.

Kelly was everywhere, full of tricks and impudent flicks on a landmark day for his club.

Deasy top-scored and there was a brace of points each for Pat Joe Connolly and Damien Burke, in what was very much a team effort from Ballyea.

And yet their nerves jangled with Dorris pounced on defensive uncertainty for goals in the 32nd and 37th minutes.

With their tails finally up, Rovers had a whiff of a fourth-ever provincial title but Ballyea would not be denied their first.

All-Star football nominee Gary Brennan became a more prominent figure as Ballyea drove on.

And in the final 11 minutes of playing time, plus the extra three minutes, Ballyea outscored Rovers by 0-7 to 0-2.

Scorers for Ballyea: Niall Deasy 0-7 (3f), Tony Kelly 0-5, Pearse Lillis 1-1, Gearoid O’Connell 0-3, Pat Joe Connolly & Damien Burke 0-2 each, Gary Brennan 0-1.

Scorers for Glen Rovers: Conor Dorris 2-1, Patrick Horgan 0-5 (4f, 1 65), Mark Dooley 0-2, David Cunningham & Cathal O’Brien 0-1 each.

Ballyea

1. Kevin Sheehan

4. Brian Carrig
3. Jack Browne
2. Joe Neylon

6. Paul Flanagan
5. Gearoid O’Connell
7. James Murphy

8. Tony Kelly
9. Stan Lineen (capt.)

10. Niall Deasy
13. Pat Joe Connolly
12. Cathal Doohan

15. Pearse Lillis
11. Gary Brennan
18. Damien Burke

Glen Rovers

1. Cathal Hickey

4. Calvin Healy
3. Stephen McDonnell
2. Gavin Moylan

9. David Dooling
6. Brian Moylan
7. Graham Callanan (capt.)

8. Donal Cronin
5. David Noonan

10. Dean Brosnan
11. Patrick Horgan
12. David Cunningham

15. Conor Dorris
14. Cathal O’Brien
13. David Busteed

Subs:

26. Mark Dooley for Busteed (38)
20. Ben Murphy for G Moylan (38)
23. Glenn Kennefick for O’Brien (45).

Referee: J Murphy (Limerick)

As it happened: Glen Rovers v Ballyea – Munster SHC final, Leinster SHC semi-finals

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