*Jack Browne raises aloft the Canon Hamilton. Photograph: Natasha Barton
Ballyea’s character and self-belief proved to be critical as they claimed a third Clare SHC title.
Speaking shortly after leading his team glory, Ballyea captain Jack Browne was struggling to absorb a dramatic final few moments whereby they scored four of their last five points to grab victory by the smallest of margins.
“There is some character in those boys, their never say die attitude. I know it can be a cliche but we have gone through a championship with four or five one point wins and a draw,” he outlined.
The outstanding centre back said “the penalty was important.You get chances and breaks and when it came for us, Deasy managed to tuck it away and it was a lifeline back into the game”.
Despite a wasteful period in the third quarter, the 2016 NHL winner didn’t lose faith that victory would be Ballyea’s. “For a long time, especially in the second half, we owned a lot of the ball and we pucked wide after wide after wide but I didn’t think we were going to lose at any time, maybe I’m a bit demented in myself but that is a testament to the boys. You just always back them, they keep going to the bitter end”.
Although Tony Kelly was absent from the field of play, his input on the sideline was vital. “There are setbacks in everything and losing Tony was a huge blow for us at the time. We might have lost him on the field but we gained him on the line. He is one of the best athletes in the country and one of the best hurling brains in the country as well. He spots things that other people don’t”.
Browne was confident that a “bitterly disappointed” Inagh/Kilnamona team would bounce back, “they are a young team. Maybe we got the rub of the green today”.