Ballyea 2-14 Clonlara 1-14

Ballyea are the Clare senior hurling champions for the first time as goals from county footballer Gary Brennan and Niall Deasy gave them a 2-14 to 1-14 victory in the replay at Cusack Park.

Ballyea led 2-05 to 0-08 lead at the interval, but a goal from Clonlara’s John Conlon 11 minutes into the second half soon levelled matters.

But Ballyea finished strongly and points from Damien Burke and the insurance score from Tony Kelly clinched the win for Ballyea, who now face Thurles Sarsfields in next Sunday’s Munster semi-final.

Nominated for an All-Star this year for his Gaelic footballing talents, Brennan struck an early goal for his club as they took a three-point lead into the interval.

Man of the match Deasy also found the net in the 17th minute for Ballyea, who dominated for long periods of the opening half as Clonlara struggled to find their feet.

As in the drawn final two weeks ago, inter-county teammates Oisin O’Brien and Kelly cancelled each other out at midfield, as the former hurler of the year had to be satisfied with one point from a 65 before the break.

But all around him Ballyea were dominant, especially Brennan at full-forward. Considering he was picked up by an All-Ireland winner in Domhnall O’Donovan, Brennan can be pleased with his display.

He hit his first point in the second minute after an accurate delivery, while Pat Joe Connolly also found the target for Ballyea in the third minute for a 0-02 to 0-00 lead.

A Nicky O’Connell free soon got Clonlara off the mark, but after Brennan pointed – it was almost a goal, but Ger O’Connell tipped his shot over the bar – and Kelly landed a 65, Brennan’s goal after 11 minutes gave his side a six-point lead.

Clonlara were the fancied side ahead of this replay and once Conlon began to gain the upperhand on Jack Browne, they started to improve. Three points in a row saw them pull within a goal, but a fine strike at the other end from Deasy restored the six-point cushion in the 17th minute.

But Ballyea only managed one more point before half-time as four frees from Cathal O’Connell made it 2-05 to 0-08 at the interval.

A 37th-minute point from Browne meant that all of the Ballyea full-back line scored from play and that stretched their lead to 2-09 to 0-10, but it also triggered a revival from Clonlara as Colm Galvin and Cathal O’Connell points were followed by Conlon’s goal that levelled matters with 19 minutes remaining.

But the final quarter belonged to the champions. Points from Deasy and Kelly meant that Ballyea never fell behind, and after O’Connell twice pulled his side level, Ballyea kicked for home with points from Deasy, Burke and Kelly for a memorable triumph.

Ballyea: K Sheehan; B Carrigg (0-1), J Browne (0-1), J Neylon (0-1); P Flanagan, G O’Connell, J Murphy; T Kelly (0-04, 0-01’65, 0-01f), S Lineen (c); N Deasy (1-03, 0-01f), P Connolly (0-01), C Doohan; M O’Leary, G Brennan (1-02), P Lillis.
Subs: D Burke (0-01) for O’Leary (45 mins), D Egan for Connolly (54 mins).

Clonlara: G O’Connell; C Fennessy, D O’Donovan, G Kennedy; C O’Donovan, N O’Connell (0-01, 0-01f), N Ryan; C Galvin (0-02), O O’Brien; M O’Loughlin (0-01), D Honan (0-01), J Hastings; G Powell, J Conlon (c) (1-01), C O’Connell (0-08, 0-07f).
Subs: S O’Brien for Ryan (25 mins), P O’Hare for C O’Donovan (39 mins), P O’Loughlin for O’Hare (59 mins), D Fitzgerald for C Galvin (61 mins).

Referee: Damien Fox (Clooney-Quin).