*Leonard McNamara. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

BALLYEA’s management never doubted they would get a response from the three in a row chasing side when they bounced back from a twelve point opening round loss to edge out Inagh/Kilnamona.

By Peter O’Connell

Martin O’Leary’s goal five minutes from full-time helped Ballyea to a 1-16 0-15 win against Inagh/Kilnamona in Shannon on Saturday.

Speaking to The Clare Echo, Ballyea boss Leonard McNamara pointed out that it would have been silly to write off the champions given their character and pedigree. “Would you ever doubt them? A lot of people doubted them but we didn’t doubt them. They were more hurt than anyone. They didn’t perform in the second half against Kilmaley but they performed today when it was put up to them. The last day wasn’t them and it all came from themselves today. They’re just an unbelievable bunch of guys”.

A successive loss would have put the champions out of the TUS Clare SHC. It’s why they started like a team with a point to prove as evident by their lead of 0-05 0-01 with less than ten minutes played.

McNamara said, “We’re delighted, we’ve nothing won but we’re there, we’re still in the championship. But don’t ever doubt these guys. Martin O’Leary is doing it for years. You know when you bring him in he’s going to do something. He’s an opportunist. Maybe we were unlucky when Thomas Kelly fell, maybe we could have got another one.

“Just on that I’d like to extend our sympathies to the people of Labasheeda, the Malone and Smythe families following the passing of Aaron. Thomas played football with Aaron, they were good friends, and it wasn’t easy for him today. That puts hurling into perspective”.

In what was their first outing, losing by four points was disappointing for Inagh/Kilnamona and their manager Louis Mulqueen. “It was our first day out, but we’re disappointed with that. We had some woeful wides. I counted up to 16 wides and that’s a high number that you can’t afford against the county champions,” he said.

Indeed their wide tally ran to seventeen on a day when they lined out minus the services of injured duo Aidan McCarthy and David Mescall. “We got it down to a point with three or four minutes to go and we got caught with a sucker goal. We needed that break. It was a good goal for them but bad for us. We needed that goal ourselves. If we had got that we could have moved on”.

Finishing up with 0-15 was another area marked by the former Clare selector as an area Inamona must improve on. “You have to put it in context in that it’s our first day out. They learned from their first day obviously and they’re not county champions for nothing. I’d be disappointed that we didn’t score enough. We didn’t have enough goal threat. You’ll win nothing with 15 points. You need to put two goals with that and five or six of the wides”.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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