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Dublin: 6 °C Saturday 15 December, 2018

Is Tony Kelly the greatest ever hurler to come out of county Clare?

Let the debate rage….

Image: James Crombie/INPHO

LOCAL CLARE JOURNALIST Derrick Lynch put the cat among the pigeons last night.

The Clare FM commentator and presenter is a big fan of Ballyea wizard Tony Kelly, and wondered if he’s the best hurler ever to emerge from the Banner County.

It’s a big statement but Kelly’s displays in recent times ensure that he’s definitely in the mix when talking about who’s Clare’s all-time best.

Former Offaly hurler Michael Duignan believes that it’s ‘hard to argue’ with Lynch’s assessment, adding that former defenders Seanie McMahon and Brian Lohan are they ‘only two I could mention in the same breath.’

Kelly was simply superb for his club yesterday as they stormed to a very first AIB Munster senior club title. 

Five points from play, some sumptuous moments of individual skill and a general exhibition of off-the-cuff hurling was a joy to behold.

Kelly’s exploits haven’t gone unnoticed among his peers, with Kilkenny star Richie Hogan suggesting that he’s welcome in a black and amber shirt at inter-county level any time:

Another Kilkenny star, Kieran Joyce, was also suitably impressed:

Galway goalkeeper James Skehill is already relishing a showdown between Kelly and St Thomas’s David Burke in February’s All-Ireland club semi-final:

And a current Clare star, Aaron Cunningham, is relishing the prospect of playing alongside Kelly in a county shirt when Ballyea’s club campaign finally comes to an end:

Clare have produced some magnificent players down through the years, and fans of a more recent vintage will have their favourites from the 1995 and 1997 All-Ireland winning crops.

The late Jimmy Smyth will also have his supporters among older generations but Kelly has achieved so much already in a relatively short space of time.

In 2013, Kelly won an All-Ireland senior medal and walked away with the Hurler and Young Hurler of the Year awards.

He was also a key member of the teams that won three successive Bord Gáis Energy All-Ireland U21 crowns from 2012-2014 and most recently, he’s helped Ballyea to breakthrough county and Munster titles.

Earlier this year, 22-year-old Kelly lanced two late points to seal Clare’s first Allianz Hurling League title since 1978, further enhancing his credentials.

But we want to know what you think. Is Tony Kelly the greatest ever hurler to come out of county Clare?

You can leave your feedback in the comments section below. Let the debate rage! 

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