THREE days of unbridled success for Tony Kelly and for once, he didn’t have to hit a ball, writes Eoin Brennan.
Sidelined with injury as he recuperates from ankle surgery that will keep him out of playing action until the New Year, the current All-Star is instead making his mark on the sidelines.
Ballyea secured their third ever Senior Hurling title on Sunday before he added a prestigious Dean Ryan Cup to his CV as mentor of St Flannan’s triumphant Under 16.5 side.
Having lost provincial Under 15, Dean Ryan and Harty Cup finals during his own St Flannan’s career at the backend of the noughties, Kelly lauded the current crop of young stars for grasping their opportunity with both hands.
“It’s a big day. We haven’t been in a Dean Ryan final since 2010 when Shane O’Donnell’s age group won it last. We’ve an exceptional bunch of young lads inside there that are keen to learn and keen to play hurling so we’re delighted to have won the Dean Ryan after three tough games.
“We were probably lucky to be only two points down by the break but they settled down at half-time and in fairness to them, they really came out and showed what they were about in the second half so I’m delighted for them.
“The goals were brilliant, especially Dylan Keane Hayes and Luca [Cleary] the way they can run at people and that’s one thing we weren’t doing in the first half, actually taking their men on.
“But in fairness in the second half, they got three great goals, all great finishes. So we’re just lucky to be working with these lads and it’s about bringing them through to Harty teams and also making sure that they hurl for Clare when they leave Flannan’s as well.”
Ballyea and St Flannan’s spectacular triumphs have capped off a memorable week for the former National Hurler and Young Hurler of the Year who is now looking forward to some much-needed down time.
“It’s good while you’re winning. it’s been a good enough week so thankfully we’ve nothing coming up for the next few days at least so we can relax for the rest of the week.”