Munster champions Ballyea reached their first ever All-Ireland SHC club final as they saw off St Thomas’ in an awesome game at Semple Stadium in Thurles.
Niall Deasy scored 1-11 as Ballyea ran into a 1-17 to 1-5 lead with just 11 minutes remaining. But St Thomas’ hit seven points in a row to get back into the game.
Cathal Doohan scored a crucial point for Ballyea in the 57th minute, but two further points from Darragh Burke, and an Anthony Kelly goal left the minimum in it, before Tony Kelly sealed the win for Ballyea.
Kelly had been Ballyea’s star performer throughout the campaign, but Niall Deasy was their main man in the first-half and hit seven points as the Clare champions led by 0-10 to 0-3 at half-time.
Deasy hit two early frees and set the trend for the rest of the half, while Darragh Burke got St Thomas’ account up and running in the ninth minute.
But Ballyea were completely dominant all over the field, and former Young Hurler of the Year Tony Kelly was outstanding.
Ballyea took a 0-7 to 0-2 lead when Deasy hit his four successful free in the 19th minute, and he added two further points before Darragh Burke scored again for St Thomas’. Deasy rounded off the scoring at the end of the half and Ballyea led by 0-10 to 0-3 at half-time.
Deasy had already scored 1-41 in the nine championships matches so far this season for Ballyea, as they claimed their first Clare and Munster titles, and he continued his onslaught after the break.
Conor Cooney had missed three frees in the opening half for St Thomas’ and Darragh Burke was given the free-taking duties thereafter.
He went on to score eight points, but before then St Thomas’ looked well out of it, as Deasy added to his tally and when he scored his goal in the 41st minute the game looked over.
Ballyea led 1-14 to 0-5 at the time, and despite Conor Cooney’s goal from a free six minutes later the margin looked to large at 1-14 to 1-5.
Deasy extended Ballyea’s lead and they led 12 with 11 minutes remaining in the game. But St Thomas scored seven points in a row as Ballyea began to slip.
When Eanna Burke scored in the 56th minute, St Thomas’ only trailed by five, and although Cathal Doohan scored for Ballyea.
Anthony Kelly’ injury-time goal left just one point between the teams, but Tony Kelly’s point in the 62nd minute saved the game for Ballyea.
Final score: BALLYEA 1-19 ST THOMAS' 2-14