Clough-Ballacolla 4-19 Mountmellick 0-8
Laois Shopping Centre Intermediate Hurling Championship Round 1
A hat-trick from teenager Chris Rafter and 11 points from midfielder Damien Bergin helped Clough-Ballacolla record a 23 point win over Mountmellick in Colt this afternoon.
Ballacolla’s second string, who will contest the ACHL Division 1A final next weekend, had far too much for Mountmellick who were without their county man Donnacha Hartnett who is still out with a thumb injury.
In fairness to Mountmellick, they battled reasonably well in the first half and only trailed by five at the break – but they had hurled with the wind in that period.
Ballacolla started like a train with three points in as many minutes from Robbie Phelan, Shane Hyland and Chris Rafter.
Mountmellick responded with a brace of James Hillard points but Damien Bergin landed two frees to restore the three point cushion and that became six after 18 minutes.
Aidan Doyle raced through the Mountmellick defence and laid the ball off to Chris Rafter who calmly slotted it beyond Aidan Challenor.
The 2018 Junior ‘A’ champions looked in trouble already but in fairness to them they settled as Mick Bermingham landed two frees either side of a James Hillard score to bring the margin back to three as we approached half time.
However, Clough-Ballacolla got the last two points via Shane Hanlon and Damien Bergin to move 1-7 to 0-5 ahead at the break and they never looked back from there.
Mountmellick didn’t score again until the 48th minute and by the stage the game was well and truly over.
Chris Rafter crashed home his second goal after a fine run in the opening minute of the net half as he, Damien Bergin (4) and Mark Hennessy added further points.
John Connolly opened Mountmellick’s account for the new half and then added another score but Chris Rafter completed his hat-trick after 50 minutes with Mountmellick being reduced to 14 men in the same moment when wing back Bernard Rochford was dismissed by referee Eoin Scully for a foul in the build up to the goal.
Redmond McEvoy got Mountmellick’s final point with the last puck of the game but Ballacolla also added a fourth goal through centre forward Ciaran Finane.
They now advance to Round 2 winners section alongside Camross, Borris-Kilcotton and the winners of Clonad/Trumera.
While Mountmellick head for the losers sections alongside Ballypickas, Rathdowney-Errill and the loser of Clonad/Trumera.
SCORERS – CLOUGH-BALLACOLLA: Chris Rafter 3-2, Damien Bergin 0-11 (ten frees), Ciaran Finane 1-0, Robbie Phelan 0-1, Shane Hyland 0-1, Shane Hanlon 0-2, Mark Hennessy 0-1, Ray Cummins 0-1 MOUNTMELLICK: Mick Bermingham 0-2 (two frees), James Hillard 0-3, John Connolly 0-2, Redmond McEvoy 0-1
CLOUGH-BALLACOLLA: Cathal Dunne; Matt Bergin, Brian Costigan, Eoin Doyle; Ben Delaney, Brendan McEvoy, Shane Hanlon; Damien Bergin, Jim Doyle; Aidan Doyle, Ciaran Finane, Chris Rafter; Mark Hennessy, Robbie Phelan, Shane Hyland
MOUNTMELLICK: Aidan Challenor; Eddie Melia, Laurence Kenny, Ian Moore; Nigel Murphy, Peter Dunne, Bernard Rochford; Ian Fennelly, Sean O’Neill; James Hillard, Karl Donoher, Barry Mangan; Mick Bermingham, Redmond McEvoy, John Connolly
Referee: Eoin Scully (Camross)