Clough-Ballacolla 2-14 Rathdowney-Errill 2-12
Laois Shopping Centre ACHL Division 1
Clough-Ballacolla continued their unbeaten run in ACHL Division 1 as they got the better of near neighbours Rathdowney-Errill in Ballacolla this evening.
The result means that Ballacolla are now three points clear of the chasing pack in Division 1 and with two games remaining are almost assured of a place in the knockout stages.
With both sides able to call on their county players and therefore able to field relatively strong sides, these was a decent battle on a wet pitch feeling the after effects of the earlier downpour.
And while Rathdowney-Errill won’t be overly concerned with the loss, the nature of the hand injury sustained by Ross King early in the second half will be worrying for both club and county. He had scored 1-6 by the time he was forced off less than ten minutes into the second half and Ballacolla were able to stretch clear in his absenc, going five points up before a late Paddy Purcell goal ensured a tight finish.
Laois play Carlow or Antrim on Saturday week in the All Ireland Qualifiers and Laois manager Eamonn Kelly will be hoping King’s injury isn’t serious enough to deem him a doubt for that.
Ballacolla got off to a dream start here, big full-forward John O’Dwyer firing to the net with less than a minute on the clock. But Rathdowney-Errill responded well, outscoring the hosts by 0-5 to 0-1 over the next 15 minutes to lead by a point at the end of the first quarter. Tadhg Dowling and King accounted for two points each with David Poynton adding the other. Ballacolla’s only response in this spell came from a Stephen Maher free.
Two excellent points from veteran Canice Coonan in quick succession edged Ballacolla into the lead but King hit back with two more of his own again before a Maher point from play and a Willie Hyland ’65 nudged Ballacolla ahead once more.
King’s goal came in the 23rd minute when he burst through and fired past Danny Hanlon from close range and he followed it up with a free to leave his side three up.
Ballacolla finished the half strong, however, with Lee Cleere and Hyland (’65) pointing and Willie Dunphy showing his scoring touch by pouncing for a good goal. At half time Ballacolla led 2-7 to 1-8.
Two long-range Stephen Maher frees got the second-half scoring underway and while King would respond with one of his own, it was his last act of the game. Paddy McKane (free) and Liam O’Connell (’65) kept Rathdowney-Errill in touch but Ballacolla began to kick for home – with Hyland adding three points and Lee Cleere another to have them 2-13 to 1-11 up as the game entered the final five minutes.
Paddy Purcell gave his side a glimmer of hope late on with a good goal but Stephen Maher had the last say with another free and Ballacolla held on.
Ballacolla travel to Ballinakill next Thursday for the penultimate round while Rathdowney-Errill are at home to Borris-Kilcotton.
SCORERS – Clough-Ballacolla: Willie Hyland 0-5 (three ’65s and one free), Stephen Maher 0-5 (four frees), John O’Dwyer 1-0, Willie Dunphy 1-0, Lee Cleere 0-2, Canice Coonan 0-2. Rathdowney-Errill: Ross King 1-6 (0-3 frees), Paddy Purcell 1-1 (0-1 free), Tadhg Dowling 0-2, David Poynton 0-1, Paddy McKane 0-1 (free) and Liam O’Connell (’65) 0-1 each
CLOUGH-BALLACOLLA: Danny Hanlon; Johnny Finane, Jim Doyle, Eoin Doyle; John A Delaney, Willie Hyland, Lee Cleere; Aidan Corby, Damien Hogan; Brian Corby, Canice Coonan, Robbie Phelan; Stephen Maher, John O’Dwyer, Willie Dunphy. Subs: Michael McEvoy for J Doyle (40 mins), Sean Corby for B Corby (48 mins), Damien Bergin for O’Dwyer (53 mins) and John Keane for Finane (55 mins)
RATHDOWNEY-ERRILL: Noel Brennan; Kevin O’Dea, Brian Campion, Alan Delaney; Joe Fitzpatrick, Liam O’Connell, Jimmy Corrigan; Paddy Meehan, Jack Kelly; David Poynton, Ross King, Paddy Purcell; Paddy McKane, Tadhg Dowling, Jordan Kavanagh. Subs: Shane Madden for King (injured – 40 mins), Paddy Whelan for Kavanagh (50 mins)
REFEREE: John O’Brien (Portlaoise)
SEE ALSO – Here are all of Thursday’s Laois GAA results