They’ve won a new legion of fans following their exploits over the past fortnight and now provincial glory is on offer for the Ballyea senior hurlers.
Man of the match in their County Final success and contributor of 0-05 in their memorable Munster semi-final extra time win over Thurles Sarsfields, Niall Deasy has been playing a central role in their glorious run.
“We wouldn’t have even dreamed of this, never even thought of it. It’s great and it’ll take a while to sink in” the twenty two year stated moments after the qualifying for the club’s first Munster final.
It was the manner in which they won that got most people talking. Having been seven points behind with nine minutes of normal time remaining it looked like the game was up for the Clare champions. Deasy refers to their outings all year in which they’ve been clawing their way from behind.
“Every day we’ve always been coming back, against Crusheen, against Clonlara the last few days we’ve always had faith in ourselves”.
At the beginning of the game, Niall was earmarked as a danger man with Thurles assigning All-Star defender Ronan Maher as the man to curb his influence. It didn’t last long with Maher being pushed to full-back as Gary Brennan ran riot in the opening five minutes as Robbie Hogan’s side raided for two goals.
Both Brennan and Deasy are over 6ft in height and are usually deployed around the edge of the square to act as the target man for any dropping balls. “We like to switch it around and make sure there’s one big lad inside and it’s worked out well in the last few games for us” the former Clare minor footballer added.
While many will praise Deasy for tapping over placed balls, a moment of excellence towards the end of the game deserves as much applause. He won possession in the corner of Cusack Park adjacent to the siopa and in the heat of battle the common move would be to take on his marker.
Instead he applied his brain and decided to flick the sliotar off his Thurles counterpart, Stephen Lillis to win a 65, a shot he struck over with no complaints in a move that was as good as the five scores he got all day. “I hadn’t scored much in the game so I felt I had to get something in before the game was over”.