Juggling Dublin league with Clare championship and getting a Banner senior call-up

Attacker Niall Deasy is central to Ballyea’s All-Ireland club hurling hopes.

Niall Deasy Niall Deasy's scoring returns helped Ballyea win Clare and Munster titles.

WHEN THE CURTAIN came down on Ballyea’s magical 2016 hurling adventure after last November’s Munster club final, not all of their players could draw breath and bask in the glow of their remarkable achievements.

They had been crowned Clare senior hurling kingpins for the first time and then progressed to reach the summit in Munster as well.

Niall Deasy had been influential in that glorious run for the club based outside Ennis but even after defeating Glen Rovers, he had another hurling engagement to tend to with a league game in Dublin.

Living in the capital where he works for AIB, he takes up tale of his double life last season as a Dublin club league hurler and a Clare club championship hurler.

“After the first round of the (Clare) championship, we’d three months with no games coming up and I don’t think there was any league games in Clare.

“So I decided to join Parnells to be able to play league games up in Dublin and I was training with them all year.

“I think it’s a great thing to be able to do in the GAA to play non championship games in another county if you’re working there.

“Clare is a three and a half hour drive home and three and a half hours back up. It worked out great for me to be honest.

“I didn’t find it strange at all because I was always used to playing county and club, it’s the same as playing with two teams.

“There was actually the league playoff final to get into Division 1 in Dublin, the week after the Munster final. I played it.

Cathal Doohan, Niall Deasy and Stan Lineen celebrates at the final whistle Niall Deasy celebrating with teammates Cathal Doohan and Stan Lineen Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“Parnells were very accommodating, I think they were just happy for me to come along and play league.

“Ballyea have been great for me, they don’t put any pressure on me. There’s no case of ‘you’re here for training twice a week or else you don’t play’. They seem to be understanding.”

The benefits were there to be seen in Deasy’s scoring returns for a Ballyea team that are gearing up for an All-Ireland semi-final against St Thomas next Saturday.

  • Clare final replay v Clonlara: 1-3 (0-1f)
  • Munster semi-final v Thurles Sarsfields: 0-5 (0-3f, 0-1 ’65)
  • Munster final v Glen Rovers 0-7 (0-3f)

Cutting down travel has helped Deasy’s fitness.

“I think it was a huge help for me as the two previous years I tore hamstrings – right and left.

“This is my first full year (fit) so it helped me in a big way. I’d do whatever I needed to do to get myself training properly.”

His impressive club has propelled him back into the inter-county arena. He’s previously worked at minor and U21 level with new Clare senior bosses Donal Moloney and Gerry O’Connor.

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Donal Moloney and Gerry O'Connor All-Ireland U21 winning mangers Donal Moloney and Gerry O'Connor are now at the helm for Clare. Source: INPHO

“I’d probably know them since 2010/2011. I’ve come up all along with them, they would have been over U21 teams as well.

“I thought I had a good chance alright, I was happy enough they came on board. To be fair to the Clare fellas, they never really put any pressure on us to turn up to training or turn up to Munster league games.

“It’s such a huge opportunity with Ballyea, it was said just to train away with them and help out the club lads.”

Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Ballyea are now just one win away from the Croke Park stage on St Patrick’s Day and Deasy pinpoints player availability as key to facilitating their run.

“Our biggest thing is our county players. We have five on the (Clare) senior hurling and five on the senior football team.

“We’re only a very small club. When everyone else is away they don’t really train with Ballyea, so we’d be fairly dependent on Clare hurlers and footballers getting knocked out early in the championship to be able to get a decent run going with the club.

“This is probably the first year that everyone got a clean break around the summertime. We had decent numbers of training. We always knew we had the potential to go on, it just took a lot of different things to go our way.”

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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