*Niall Deasy under pressure from Cian Dillon. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
Two time county champions Ballyea began their 2020 Clare SHC with a win coming out on top against battle-hardened Crusheen on Sunday afternoon.
Venue: Cusack Park, Ennis
On the first day out for both sides, each outfit will place more emphasis on the lessons learned as opposed to the outcome itself ahead of the second round in two weeks.
Eleven wides in the opening half from Crusheen stemmed their progress. Some of their more clinical attackers opted to offload the ball via a handpass frequently as opposed to taking a shot on whereas the opposite was the case for some of their less-established forwards.
As is their trademark, teak tough defending accompanied the display of the Blood and Bandages with Cathal Dillon doing well to contain Niall Deasy, one of their more lethal forwards in the club championship over the past four seasons.
Level on four occasions in the opening half, Ballyea always seemed to hold the upper hand with the space afforded to Tony Kelly a main factor as to why. The former Hurler of the Year clocked up a tally of seven points over the hour. Fortunately for supporters of the men in Black and Amber, an ankle injury he sustained at the end of the game was not serious enough to force his withdrawal from the game.
(All photographs by Gerard O’Neill)
Braces from Kelly, Niall Deasy and a Morgan Garry white flag was sufficient for Kevin Sheehan’s side to hold a slender one point advantage at half-time.
Having got back on level terms, Crusheen conceded four of the next scores, all from Kelly, Deasy and Garry.
Ross Hayes kept the challengers account ticking over, the fact that he was their only scorer in the second half did them no favours.
With the job completed, Ballyea now focus on round two. The presence of Tony Kelly in their lineup will always make them a force while the addition of a scoring forward in the guise of Morgan Garry is a big plus for them.
Crusheen showed promise and will exit Cusack Park in positive spirits. Younger players are continuing to be given the opportunity with Diarmuid Mullins and Murrough McMahon making their debuts from the bench. For them, Cathal Dillon, Ross Hayes, Cilléin Mullins and Paddy Vaughan worked tirelessly.
Scorers Ballyea: Tony Kelly (0-07), Niall Deasy (0-06 3f), Morgan Garry (0-01), Gary Brennan (0-01).
Scorers Crusheen: Ross Hayes (0-09 6f 1’65), J Fitzgibbon (0-02), C O’Donnell (0-01), D Tuohy (0-01 1f), P Vaughan (0-01)
16: Oisin Hennessy
4: Peter Casey
3: Paul Flanagan
2: Brian Casey
5: James Murphy
6: Jack Browne
7: Brandon O’Connell
12: Ryan Griffin
11: Pearse Lillis
9: Gary Brennan
8: Tony Kelly
12: Cillian Brennan
15: Tadhg Lynch
14: Niall Deasy
19: Morgan Garry
18: Aonghus Keane for Griffin (35),
13: Martin O’Leary for Garry (47),
20: Aaron Griffin for Lynch (56)
1: Donal Tuohy
4: John Brigdale
3: Cathal Dillon
2: Gavin O’Brien
8: Éanna McMahon
6: Cian Dillon
7: Tadhg Dean
9: Jamie Fitzgibbon
17: Luke Hayes
10: Sean Mhaoir
15: Cilléin Mullins
11: Ross Hayes
18: Paddy Vaughan
14: Breffni Horner
13: Conor O’Donnell
24: Alan Brigdale for L Hayes (38),
25: Mark Perill for O’Donnell (50);
21: Ian O’Brien for Vaughan (52),
19: Diarmuid Mullins for Mhaoir (56),
20: Murrough McMahon for Fitzgibbon (58).
Referee: Joe Mullins (Clonlara)