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Cathal O Connell of Clonlara is congratulated by his brother Nicky after he equalised late during the senior hurling county final against Ballyea at Cusack park. Photograph by John Kelly.

Tots saves the day for Clonlara

Clonlara 1-11 Ballyea 1-11

Clare GAA’s finances received a massive boost for the second time in a week as Clonlara and Ballyea ended on level terms in the senior hurling championship final played before an attendance fo 5.046 at Cusack Park this Sunday afternoon.

While it won’t be remembered as one of the greatest hurling finals, it did provide a tremendous finish which produced a couple of outstanding points. Overall a share of the spoils was a fair outcome on a day when the sides were level on six occasions

Inter county players Tony Kelly and Cathal O’Connell certainly gave the patrons value for money with some outstanding scores under huge pressure.

A Colm Galvin goal in injury time at the end of the half saw Clonlara lead 1-5 to 0-5 at half time. they held the upperhand in the opening ten minutes of the second half and stretched their advantage to five points but Ballyea didn’t panic and they had the gap back to a goal with ten minutes remaining when half time substitute Martin O’Leary struck a major blow as he waltzed past a couple of Clonlara defenders before shooting to the net  and levelling the tie at 1-9 each.

Tony Kelly converted a ’65 five minutes from time and this score separated the teams until the final minute of normal time when Cathal ‘Tots’ O’Connell fired over a wonderful equaliser.

In the third minute of ‘injury time’ Paul McNamara’s attempted clearance was intercepted by Tony Kelly at midfield and he drilled the sliother high and between the uprights for what many thought was the winning score. Clonlara had other ideas and Cathal O’Connell somehow won possession and got away from a few Ballyea markers to score a wonderful equaliser and set up a replay which is expected to take place on Sunday week. confirmation of the date and venue will be made at a meeting of the Clare CCC this Monday evening.

Tony Kelly was Ballyea’s chief marksman with 0-9 of their tally while substitute O’Leary landed 1-1 on a day when Gearoid O’Connell and Jack Browne were prominent throughout

Domhnaill and Cormac O’Donovan did well for the South East Clare side, particularly in the opening half while Cathal O’Connell and Oisin O’Brien in the opening half got in some valuable work

Earlier in the afternoon Sixmilebridge were crowned junior A hurling champions with a two point win, 1-17 to 1-15 over Bodyke who had led by two at half time.

Bodyke go in search of league honours next week when the face their neighbours Ogonnelloe in the final in Whitegate.

By Seamus Hayes

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