Ballyea claim 2nd Clare Senior Championship
Ballyea 1-20 Cratloe 1-14
Ballyea produced a remarkable 13 point second half turnaround to complete their second Clare senior hurling title in three years in front of 7,040 in Cusack Park Ennis this afternoon.
Niall Deasy’s 13 point haul from placed balls was copperfastened by the 55th minute clinching goal for Martin O’Leary as Ballyea, minus seven of their 2016 team, turned the tables on their flagging opponents.
It was a sea-change that certainly seemed unlikely when already trailing by four by the break, Ballyea would fall seven behind within 90 seconds of the restart. However, while Cratloe had eight second half wides, Ballyea kept chipping away at the deficit, mainly through Deasy’s frees and would outscore the 2014 champions by 1-11 to 0-01 for the remainder to clinch only their second ever title.
Despite having the wind at their backs, Ballyea were largely second best in the opening period as Billy Connors and Cathal McInerney inspired a 1-10 to 0-09 interval lead for Cratloe.
Niall Deasy cannoned a shot off the crossbar in the seventh minute but Cathal McInerney made no mistake at the other end when fielding a Conor McGrath delivery on the turn to power through and bat past goalkeeper Barry Coote in the 25th minute.
Three Connors’ points carved out a four point half-time deficit that would be added to on the resumption when Cathal McInerney, Shane Gleeson and Billy Connors fired points in the space of a minute to open up a 1-13 to 0-09 cushion.
However, they failed to bolster their tally and it allowed Ballyea a glimmer of hope that Niall Deasy exploited to convert seven of the next eight points before also teeing up Martin O’Leary for a 52nd minute equaliser.
Brandon O’Connell nudged Ballyea in front from the puck-out while four minutes later, O’Leary accepted a gift from another to billow the net at 1-18 to 1-14.
With a wave of momentum now behind them, Martin O’Leary and Niall Deasy completed the scoring as Cratloe tried in vain for a goal in a bid to end an almost 30 minute barren patch.
Scorers for Ballyea: Niall Deasy 0-13 (12f, 1’65); Martin O’Leary 1-3; Tony Kelly 0-2; Gary Brennan, Brandon O’Connell 0-1 each
Scorers for Cratloe: Billy Connors 0-8 (4f); Cathal McInerney 1-3; Conor McGrath, Rian Considine, Shane Gleeson 0-1 each
Ballyea: Barry Coote; Brian Carrigg, James Murphy, Joe Neylon; Brandon O’Connell, Jack Browne, Aonghus Keane; Tony Kelly, Gary Brennan; Eoghan Donnellan, Tadhg Lynch, Cillian Brennan; Martin O’Leary, Niall Deasy, Pearse Lillis;
Subs: Brian Casey for Joe Neylon, Ryan Griffin for Eoghan Donnellan, David Sheehan for Ciallian Brennan,
Cratloe: Gearoid Ryan; Martin Óige Murphy, Michael Hawes, Shane O’Leary; Diarmuid Ryan, Liam Markham,
Shane Gleeson; Enda Boyce, Sean Collins; Conor McGrath, David Collins, Podge Collins; Rian Considine, Cathal McInerney, Billy Connors;
Subs: Sean Chaplin for Sean. Collins, Damian Browne for David Collins;
Referee: Wayne King.