TONY KELLY LIVED up to his billing in helping his club Ballyea reach their first Clare senior hurling final in 13 years, and only their second ever, as they ground out a semi-final success over Feakle at Cusack Park this afternoon.
2013 Hurler of the Year and Clare joint-captain Kelly bagged 0-7 in their four-point victory. He was helped by other vital scoring contributions from Ballyea by Niall Deasy (0-6) and Eoghan Donnellan (0-4) as they advanced to the decider.
Feakle were chasing a first final appearance in Clare since 1988 but were foiled by Ballyea who will now play the winners of tomorrow’s semi-final clash between 2015 finalists Clonlara and 2014 champions Cratloe.
Feakle got off to a great start in this afternoon’s semi-final with an early goal from Colin Nelson but Kelly and Donnellan spearheaded Ballyea’s fight back to ensure the teams were level at 1-6 to 0-9 at the break.
Ballyea started the second-half superbly as they rattled off five points without reply courtesy of Kelly (2), Deasy (2) and Donnellan. By the third quarter mark, the game was still in the melting point as Ballyea’s lead was cut to two points, 0-15 to 1-10.
Kelly stamped his class on proceedings then to push Ballyea into a 0-20 to 1-12 lead with five minutes left on the clock. They were forced to endure a nervy finish when Martin Daly bagged Feakle’s second goal in the closing moments but Deasy and Clare senior footballer Martin O’Leary helped land the insurance points to seal Ballyea’s win.
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