A historic year continues for Ballyea as they were crowned Munster club champions in their first ever provincial decider appearance.
Glen Rovers 2-10
Venue: Semple Stadium
Ballyea ended a sixteen year wait for a Clare club to be crowned Munster senior hurling club champions following on from Sixmilebridge’s win over Mount Sion in 2000. In contrast to other provincial finals the Robbie Hogan managed side completely dominated proceedings and proved to be a level ahead of their Cork opponents.
On eleven minutes played the sides were level with three points apiece, Tony Kelly and Niall Deasy pointed for the Clare champions while Patrick Horgan and a well executed effort from Cathal O’Brien had Glen Rovers in contention.
All this year Ballyea have been praised for their mentality and resilience, Pearse Lillis’ goal on the twelfth minute stayed true to that ethos. Already the Clare footballer had two poor wides but ‘if at first you don’t succeed try and try again’, that he did as Lillis snatched the sliotar into his hand and fired it past Cathal Hickey for what would be their only goal of the game.
Niall Deasy and David Cunningham swapped scores subsequent to the goal to leave a gap of three points between the teams. Ballyea hit the final six scores of the opening half to boast a comfortable nine point lead at the break.
Any complacency they had was soon vanished on the resumption, a dropping 65 from Patrick Horgan was batted towards Conor Dorris and the corner-forward made no mistake in driving his effort past Kevin Sheehan to reduce the deficit to six points.
Dorris and Damien Burke traded scores before the Glen Rovers corner forward struck for goal once more to put only a single score between the teams. Tony Kelly revelled in the space he was afforded by the Cork side and pointed on the thirty eighth minute. David Dooley and Niall Deasy added points for their respective teams.
A brace of two points from Patrick Horgan were sandwiched between white flags from Gary Brennan and Niall Deasy to leave a gap of four points with fifty one minutes on the clock.
In the final eight minutes Ballyea found an extra gear outscoring the men from the Glen 6-2 as the volume from their supporters erupted through Semple Stadium as they secured their first ever Munster title.
When the need is greatest Ballyea seem to find another platform to bring their performance to, they could easily panicked at the beginning of the second half but they don’t panic and their trust in each other and all-round mentality is hard to match. Gearoid O’Connell, Tony Kelly and Niall Deasy were outstanding for the winners as they made their way to the Munster throne.
Glen Rovers were afforded a glorious opportunity to come back into the game at the beginning of the second half but they didn’t grasp it, similarly throughout the game they failed to grab a hold of possession and couldn’t rise the ball on several occasions. Reaching a Munster final is an achievement and they came up against a fitter, sharper, mentally stronger side who were deserving of their win.
St Thomas’ of Galway await Ballyea in the All-Ireland club semi-final on Sunday February 5th.
Ballyea: Kevin Sheehan; Brian Carrigg, Jack Browne, Joe Neylon; Paul Flanagan, Gearoid O’Connell (0-03), James Murphy; Tony Kelly (0-05), Stan Lineen; Niall Deasy (0-07 2f), Patjoe Connolly (0-02), Cathal Doohan; Damien Burke (0-02), Gary Brennan (0-01), Pearse Lillis (1-01). Subs: Paddy O’Connell for Connolly (62).
Glen Rovers: Cathal Hickey; Gavin Moylan, Stephen McDonnell, Calvin Healy; David Noonan, Brian Moylan, Graham Callinan; Donal Cronin, David Dooling; David Dooley (0-01), Patrick Horgan (0-05 4f 1’65), David Cunningham (0-01); Conor Dorris (2-01), Cathal O’Brien (0-01), David Busteed. Subs: Ben Murphy for Moylan (37), Mark Dooley for Busteed (37), Glenn Kennefick for O’Brien (44).
Referee: Johnny Murphy (Limerick)
All photos by Martin Connolly