He’s a Kilmihil man but since becoming the first man to captain Ballyea to glory in the Clare SHC, Stan Lineen will always be associated with the village of Ballyea.
Lineen is proud to line out for the Robbie Hogan managed side and is treated as one of their own, just like the Cooraclare, Lissycasey, Ballynacally and fellow Kilmihil men lining out for the Black and Amber. The respect the people involved in the club have for Stan is outweighed by the affection he has for the club.
Since he started playing hurling back in West Clare, winning a senior championship has been the dream but never did he dare to think it would become the reality. “It’s unbelievable, words can’t describe it, you wouldn’t believe the support until you actually see out on the field, it’s what you dream of when you pick up a hurley and start playing”.
On Sunday they welcome Thurles Sarsfields to Cusack Park in what will be their first team competing in the Munster championship. The Tipperary champions are tipped to advance just like Clonlara were in the county final.
As long as the workrate and effort comes from the players their chances of victory will always be high. “No one gave us a chance against Clonlara so it makes it that bit sweeter, after we lost to Éire Óg we treated every game like a county final and it worked for us, we put our bodies on the line everyday and we’re county champions now”.
While some individuals may point to Stan finally discarding of his old helmet as a sign of a fresh beginning and one that may lead to glory, he feels the cool mentality of the players and management is the ultimate reason. “All year long we haven’t panicked, we went 7-1 down against Crusheen in the quarter-final and we never panicked, we dragged it back”.
Day in day out Lineen leads Ballyea into battle, he’s first onto the field usually followed by a sprinting Tony Kelly who will then drive the sliotar between the posts as part of the routine as do several other members of the squad.
With players like Kelly, Gary Brennan, Paul Flanagan all former County captains plus 2016 UL Fitzgibbon Cup captain Jack Browne in their dressing room, the Ballyea skipper says he is surrounded by leaders. “When you’ve players like Gary Brennan and Tony Kelly it’s easy captain a team”.