Ballyea 1-19 St Thomas’ 2-14
Former Hurler of the Year Tony Kelly had the final say as Ballyea moved one step closer to their first ever All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship club title with victory over St Thomas’ at Semple Stadium in Thurles.
The Clare champions held a 1-17 to 1-05 lead in the 49th minute when Niall Deasy made his personal tally 1-11 for the day.
But St Thomas’ hit seven points in-a-row, and Anthony Kelly’s injury-time goal left just a point in it, before Kelly finished things off for Ballyea.
Ballyea started well and two early frees from Niall Deasy set the trend for the opening half – they led 0-10 to 0-03 at half-time.
St Thomas’ were second best throughout and Tony Kelly ruled midfield, while Deasy scored seven points in the first-half.
Wing-forward Deasy had scored 1-41 in Ballyea’s previous nine championship games this season, as they won their first Clare and Munster titles on way to the All-Ireland semi-final.
St Thomas’ had not played a game since they beat Gort in the Galway county final on 16 October.
Galway star Conor Cooney hit five wides for St Thomas’ and they had to rely on centre forward Darragh Burke to keep them in the game.
He scored their first and last point in the half, while Kenneth Burke was the only other scorer for the Galway champions in the first-half.
Ballyea were the better side at the start of the second-half as well, and Deasy converted a brilliant team goal in the 41st minute to give Ballyea a 1-14 to 0-05 lead.
Conor Cooney hit back with a 47th minute goal for the 2013 All-Ireland champions, but when Deasy made his personal tally 1-11 for the day, Ballyea led by 1-17 to 1-05 with 11 minutes left.
But St Thomas’ went on to score seven points in a row from here. Cathal Doohan provided a brief reprieve for Ballyea, but Anthony Kelly’s 61st minute goal left just a point in it, before Tony Kelly hit the final point shortly after.
BALLYEA: K Sheehan; B Carrig, J Browne, J Neylon; G O’Connell (0-02), P Flanagan, J Murphy; T Kelly (0-03), S Lineen; N Deasy (1-11, 0-09f), PJ Connolly (0-02), C Doohan (0-01); P Lillis, G Brennan, D Burke.
Subs: E Donnellan for Burke (33).
ST THOMAS’: P Skehill; F Burke, C Burke, E Burke (0-01); D Cooney (0-01), S Cooney (0-01), J Regan (0-01); David Burke, B Burke; C Cooney (1-00, 1-00f), Darragh Burke (0-08, 0-06f, 0-01 ’65), D Sherry; B Farrell, S Skehill, K Burke (0-02).
Subs: A Kelly (1-00) for Sherry (22), M Caulfield for Farrell (44).
REFEREE: Sean Cleere (Kilkenny).