Tony Kelly lands 1-9 to steer Ballyea back into Clare hurling final

Ballyea 1-21
O’Callaghan’s Mills 1-17

Eoin Brennan reports from Cusack Park, Ennis

A SUPERB HAUL of 1-9 from Tony Kelly effectively steered Ballyea to their second Clare senior hurling final in three years when holding off the stubborn challenge of O’Callaghan’s Mills in Cusack Park, Ennis this afternoon.

The 2013 National Hurler and Young Hurler of the Year produced another scoring masterclass to unearth a six point first half turnaround and lead by three by half-time, a margin that the 2016 champions would manage to hold for the majority of the second period on their way to only their third ever county final.

Despite the best efforts of four different man-markers over the hour, Kelly scored 1-5 in the opening half and four more by the two-thirds mark to take his tally to 3-30 in just four matches.

So while O’Callaghan’s Mills, playing in their first semi-final in 21 years, pushed them all the way, Ballyea’s greater experience, epitomised by dominant defender Jack Browne, proved crucial down the final straight to deservedly prevail.

It was all so different early on when an eighth minute Gary Cooney goal helped the Mills to carve out a 1-4 to 0-4 advantage by the 12th minute against the conditions.

However, a brace from Kelly would level up the tie by the turn of the second quarter, with the sides going blow for blow on three more occasions before Kelly raced through from 50 metre to billow the net in the 26th minute and alter the narrative of the game as Ballyea took a 1-12 to 1-09 cushion into the break.

The Mills came out fighting with the first two scores of the new half through Aidan O’Gorman and Gary Cooney, only for Kelly (3), fellow Clare senior Niall Deasy and county footballer Pearse Lillis to hit back with five of the next seven points at 1-17 to 1-13 by the 40 minute mark.

O’Callaghan’s Mills kept up the fight, mainly through Jacob Loughnane’s placed balls. But overall their shooting became too erratic to really trouble Ballyea who kept the scoreboard ticking over predominantly through Deasy and Kelly to advance to the final where they will meet the winners of tomorrow’s semi-final between Cratloe and Kilmaley in a fortnight’s time.

Scorers for Ballyea: Tony Kelly 1-9; Niall Deasy 0-7 (5f); Tadhg Lynch, Martin O’Leary, Eoghan Donnellan, Pearse Lillis, Ryan Griffin 0-1 each

Scorers for O’Callaghan’s Mills: Jacob Loughnane 0-7 (6f); Gary Cooney 1-2; Sean Cotter 0-3; Patrick Donnellan, Johnny Cooney, Bryan Donnellan, Aidan O’Gorman, Aidan Fawl 0-1 each


1. Barry Coote

2. Brandon O’Connell
5. James Murphy
3. Brian Carrigg

7. Aonghus Keane
6. Jack Browne
2. Joe Neylon

9. Tony Kelly
14. Gary Brennan

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10. Pearse Lillis
8. Tadhg Lynch
12. Cillian Brennan

13. Martin O’Leary
11. Niall Deasy
15. Eoghan Donnellan

20. Ryan Griffin for Donnellan (57)
19. David Sheehan for O’Leary (62)
25. Brian Casey for O’Connell (64)

O’Callaghan’s Mills

1. Killian Nugent

2. Niall Donovan
3. Conor Cooney
4. Gerry Cooney

8. Patrick Donnellan
7. Ciaran Cooney
15. Aidan O’Gorman

5. Michael McGrath
10. Sean O’Gorman

12. Gary Cooney
6. Aidan Fawl
9. Jacob Loughnane

14. Sean Cotter
11. Bryan Donnellan
13. Johnny Cooney

22. Colin Crehan for Donovan (HT)
18. Mark Pewter for J. Cooney (45)
17. Kevin O’Callaghan for Cotter (61)

Referee: Wayne King (St Jpseph’s Doora/Barefield)

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