St Thomas 2-14
Declan Rooney reports from Semple Stadium
NIALL DEASY SCORED 1-11 for Munster champions Ballyea in Semple Stadium this evening as they booked their place in the AIB All-Ireland senior hurling club final on St Patrick’s Day, after holding off an incredible comeback by Galway’s St Thomas.
Deasy had already scored 1-41 in Ballyea’s nine championship matches en route to the All-Ireland semi-final, and he gave a stunning display as Ballyea became the first Clare club since St Joseph’s Doora-Barefield in 2000 to reach the decider at this level.
Ballyea held a 0-10 to 0-3 lead at half-time, and Deasy struck their goal in the 41st minute, in a brilliant move which began with Tony Kelly in the Ballyea defence.
But Conor Cooney and Anthony Kelly scored third quarter goals for St Thomas’ who mounted an amazing revival after trailing by 12 points with 12 minutes remaining.
Kelly’s injury-time goal cut the gap to the minimum but St Thomas were denied at the death as Tony Kelly clipped over the insurance score for Ballyea.
Great snap of post-match exchange between Tony Kelly and Conor Cooney in Thurles tonight. Kelly's Ballyea booked an All-Ireland senior club final place as Cooney and his St Thomas team-mates fell just short after a dramatic comeback. #thetoughest #hurling #ballyea #tonykelly #stthomas #gaa - Pic: INPHO/Cathal Noonan
Ballyea dominated the opening half. Galway county star Conor Cooney missed three frees but Deasy scored six and a point from play for Ballyea.
Deasy scored their first point from distance in the seventh minute, and they led 0-2 to 0-1, when St Thomas’ got their first score through Darragh Burke in the ninth minute.
St Thomas’ would only add two further scores in the first-half, Darragh Burke again on target, while Kenneth Burke scored in the 15th minute. But Ballyea were too strong and they led by seven at the interval.
Darragh Burke tried to haul Ballyea back early in the second-half for St Thomas and Conor Cooney did score a 47th minute goal from a free.
But despite St Thomas’ late rally, Deasy’s effort in the 41st minute was the crucial score and sealed the win as Ballyea head for an All-Ireland final after winning their first ever Clare senior title last October.
Scorers for Ballyea: Niall Deasy 1-11 (0-9f), Tony Kelly 0-3, Gearoid O’Connell, PJ Connolly 0-2 each, Cathal Doohan 0-1.
Scorers for St Thomas: Darragh Burke 0-8 (0-6f, 0-1 ’65), Conor Cooney (1-0f), Anthony Kelly 1-0 each, Kenneth Burke 0-2, Shane Cooney, James Regan, Donal Cooney, Eanna Burke 0-1 each.
1. Kevin Sheehan
4. Brian Carrig
3. Jack Browne
2. Joe Neylon
5. Gearoid O’Connell
6. Paul Flanagan
7. James Murphy
8. Tony Kelly
9. Stan Lineen
10. Niall Deasy
13. Pat Joe Connolly
12. Cathal Doohan
15. Pearse Lillis
11. Gary Brennan
18. Damien Burke
17. Martin O’Leary for Burke (33)
1. Patrick Skehill
2. Fintan Burke
3. Cathal Burke
4. Eanna Burke
5. Donal Cooney
6. Shane Cooney
7. James Regan
8. David Burke
9. Bernard Burke
10. Conor Cooney
11. Darragh Burke
12. David Sherry
13. Brendan Farrell
14. Sean Skehill
15. Kenneth Burke
17. Anthony Kelly for Sherry (22)
23. Mark Caulfield for Farrell (44)
Referee: Sean Cleere (Kilkenny)
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