Thanks to an incredible performance from Tony Kelly Ballyea progressed to the Munster Senior hurling final, defeating Thurles Sarsfields from Tipperary in what was, by all accounts, the game of the hurling year. The match in Cusack Park finished 4-18 to 2-22 after extra-time with both sides out on their feet.
Ballyea were inspired by Tony Kelly, who despite not winning an All Star award on Friday night confirmed his status as one of the top hurlers in the country - if that was ever in doubt. Kelly scored four points in the last quarter of the game as he sought to pull back a deficit that was seven points with fifteen minutes left (and went on to bag 1-10 in total). But it was thanks to Gary Brennan's dramatic last minute goal in normal time (see below) that Ballyea were able to force the game into extra time.
It was clear from the opening stages of the game that Kelly had his game face on, as he clinically dispatched a penalty past Patrick McCormack in the fourth minute of the match.
With 58 minutes on the clock Ballyea were five points down and a comeback looked unlikely until an outrageous points from Pearse Lillis gave them fresh hope.
A couple of minutes later their talisman Kelly took hold of a loose ball and produced a score of the quality that perhaps only he and a handful of others in the country would be capable of.
And, with just seconds on the clock, Brennan caught a ball, barrelled his way towards the Sarsfields goal and struck the dramatic leveller.
In extra-time Ballyea were able to pull ahead, with Kelly again the figurehead - splitting the posts with this phenomenal effort.
Social media was awash with praise for Kelly after his performance.
— Carthach Keane (@KeaneCarthach) November 6, 2016
Tony Kelly and Ballyea what a performance 👏👏
— AussieGleeson (@AussieGleeson) November 6, 2016
— Roy Scannell (@roytscannell) November 6, 2016
Should the All Star awards start including players from club championship? It's a thought.