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Ballyea captain Tony Kelly and his team mates celebrate with the cup in their dressing room, following their win over Cratloe in the Clare county senior hurling final at Cusack park. Photograph by John Kelly.

Magnificent Ballyea dig deep to win it

Ballyea 1-20 Cratloe 1-14

BALLYEA turned in a sensational second half performance to win the 2018 Clare senior hurling title in Cusack Park on Sunday. Seven points down in the opening minute of the second half the 2016 Clare and Munster champions outscored Cratloe 1-8 to 0-0 from the 37th minute with Martin O’Leary burying the crucial goal four minutes from time, when Ballyea intercepted a short puck out. Played in front of a crowd of 7,040 people, Ballyea showed immense heart and courage to recover from a 1-10 to 0-9 deficit, having played with the wind.

Cratloe looked very sharp in the first half with Billy Connors and Cathal McInerney particularly potent in the full forward line. They looked to be in a great position at half-time but were completely outplayed for most of the second half as Ballyea significantly upped their game, while Cratloe wilted.

Niall Deasy was selected as man of the match while he also won the top scorers award for the 2018 championship in a season during which Ballyea were unbeaten, throughout the championship.

While Deasy excelled, others to play particularly well included Brandon O’Connell, Pearse Lillis and O’Leary. What really won it for Ballyea though was their belief that the game wasn’t over. Once they got to grips with Cratloe, the drove into the game and ended up overwhelming the 2014 champions.

A more detailed report and post match reaction will be published in Thursday’s print edition of The Clare Champion.

Ballyea: Barry Coote; Brian Carrigg, James Murphy, Joe Neylon; Brandon O’Connell, Jack Browne, Aonghus Keane; Tony Kelly, Gary Brennan; Eoghan Donnellan, Tadgh Lynch, Cillian Brennan; Martin O’Leary, Pierse Lillis, Niall Deasy.

Subs: Brian Casey for Joe Neylon, Ryan Griffin for Eoghan Donnellan, Stephen Sheehan for

Ballyea: Niall Deasy 0-13, (12f, 1 65), Martin O’Leary 1-3, Tony Kelly 0-2, Brandon O’Connell, Gary Brennan 0-1 each.

Cratloe: Gearoid Ryan; Michael Hawes, Martin Oige Murphy, 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: Seán Chaplin for Seán Collins, Damien Browne for David Collins.

Cratloe scorers: Billy Connors (0-8, 4f) Cathal McInerney 1-3, Conor McGrath, Rian Considine, Shane Gleeson 0-1 each.

Referee: Wayne King (St Joseph’s Doora-Barefield).

About Peter O'Connell

West Clare native Peter O'Connell has worked for The Clare Champion for 12 years and covers everything from sport, especially GAA, news, features and has been even known to branch into the fashion scene on occasion.

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