Clonlara and Ballyea will have to do it all again as a last gasp point from Cathal Tots O’Connell means there will be a replay in both the Clare SHC and SFC finals in the same year for the first time since 1982.
Páraic McMahon reports from Cusack Park
Venue: Cusack Park
Both sets of teams now have a chance to put the record straight after an underwhelming sixty minutes of hurling on the biggest day of the club hurling scene in Clare. Neither side played to their potential and will be grateful that the opposing team failed to take advantage, whoever will take the most from this game will be take home the Canon Hamilton the next day out.
John Conlon put Clonlara on the scoresheet first when he pointed with just under three minutes played, they failed to take the initiative subsequent to this with their next four shots going either way of the posts. Ballyea opened their account via Tony Kelly with the County man hitting a brace of three points on the trot to edge his side in front with thirteen minutes gone.
Nicky O’Connell and Cathal Doohan traded scores before efforts from Cathal ‘Tots’ O’Connell and Darach Honan had Clonlara back on level terms. Kelly and James Hastings swapped efforts to leave nothing between the teams with twenty nine minutes on the clock.
It was Clonlara who led at the break with a goal from Colm Galvin the difference. Oisin O’Brien blocked down Paul Flanagan, turned over possession and found the on-running Galvin who had built up enough speed to ensure he wouldn’t be caught and struck for goal twenty metres out to leave it 1-05 0-05 at half-time.
Spectators were treated to two scores from play inside the opening minute of the second half as Tony Kelly and John Conlon hit the target. Colm Galvin and Darach Honan raised white flags for the South East Clare side but Kelly and Martin O’Leary pointed to cancel out their strikes.
With fifty three minutes on the clock it looked as though Robbie Hogan’s Ballyea had swooped in with their killer blow as Martin O’Leary fired the sliotar past a helpless Ger O’Connell to make it all square for the fourth time in the game. Kelly and Tots O’Connell traded scores to leave nothing between them as additional time commenced.
It looked as though Ballyea would win their first Clare SHC as possession was gifted to Tony Kelly who made no mistake to strike between the posts on the sixty second minute. A long range free from Kelly tailed wide in their next attack but Cathal Tots O’Connell pointed from an acute angle to send the game to a replay.
Conditions suited Ballyea and many spectators presumed they had pulled it off when Kelly pointed in additional time, however they failed to see it out. Over the hour they hit as many wides as scores and had only three different scorers. Their forwards were quieter than usual and they’ll be hoping they get going the next day. Gearoid O’Connell, Tony Kelly and Jack Browne did best for them while Niall Deasy looked dangerous but crucially failed to score.
Clonlara will be counting their blessings that they have another chance to win the Clare SHC. It was another big day in which they failed to put in a performance to match the occasion, in years gone by they wouldn’t have bounced back from Martin O’Leary’s goal and Tony Kelly’s late point so that is a major plus for Damien Power’s outfit. Their key players weren’t as influential as they needed to be but they will be grateful to Cathal Tots O’Connell for giving them another bite at the cherry, he along with Domhnall O’Donovan, Cillian Fennessy and Oisin O’Brien impressed.
Ballyea: Kevin Sheehan; James Murphy, Jack Browne, Brian Carrigg; Gearoid O’Connell, Paul Flanagan, Joe Neylon; Tony Kelly (0-09 5f), Pearse Lillis, Stan Lineen; Niall Deasy, Gary Brennan, Cathal Doohan (0-01); Patjoe Connolly, Eoghan Donnellan. Subs: Martin O’Leary (1-01) for Neylon (HT), Damien Burke for Connolly (37), David Egan for Donnellan (60).
Clonlara: Ger O’Connell; Paul McNamara, Domhnall O’Donovan, Cillian Fennessy; Cormac O’Donovan, Nicky O’Connell (0-01 1f), Neil Ryan; Oisin O’Brien, Cathal ‘Tots’ O’Connell (0-04 2f), James Hastings (0-01); Paraic O’Loughlin, Colm Galvin (1-01), Darach Honan (0-02); John Conlon (0-02), Mícheál O’Loughlin. Subs: Michael White for P O’Loughlin (44), David Fitzgerald for M O’Loughlin (57), Garrett Kennedy for Ryan (60).
Referee: Rory McGann (Newmarket-on-Fergus)
All pictures by Martin Connolly