Ballyea may not host an annual St Patrick’s Day parade but for 2017 they’ll be marching to Croke Park for the All-Ireland club hurling final.
Niall Deasy was one of their best performers as they recorded a two point win over St Thomas’ to set up the St Patricks’ Day date with either Cuala or Slaughtneill. With fifteen minutes left in the game, Ballyea led by thirteen points but this was a reduced to just one as additional time commenced.
In the process, Robbie Hogan’s side nearly gave all of their supporters a heart attack and wing-forward Deasy described what was going through his head as St Thomas’ began to chip away at their lead.
“There in the finish we probably threw away a seven or eight point lead almost to lose it, hearts were in the mouth at the end but we’re absolutely delighted to get out of it. We just couldn’t win a ball in the half-forward line, every puckout was coming straight back at us and we just couldn’t seem to spread the tide, we were lucky to get away with it in the end”.
He labels the victory as “unbelievable” and is too modest to take praise for a superb performance which saw him finish with a tally of 1-11. Every single free that Niall took split the posts, the game showed how important the freetaker as John Burke’s Thomas’ were forced to swap theirs at the end of the first half.
As if executing every free wasn’t enough, the Dublin based AIB employee also raised the only green flag of the game. A score which resulted from an excellent team move involving Tony Kelly and Stan Lineen.
“Stan hit me in a perfect cross field ball straight into my hand, I turned, ran and had a go for goal from there and it was lucky that I broke the tackle and got in for a goal”, Niall recounted.
Winning in such fashion was tasty for the Bally boys and Deasy maintains that it means the world to everyone from the parish. “This is absolutely everything, even walking over here seeing everyone patting you on the back, absolutely everyone you know from going up playing hurling with are all here today, it just means absolutely everything to us”.