Castletown 1-20 Ballinakill 1-14
Laois Shopping Centre Senior Hurling Championship Round 3
Castletown claimed second place in Group B of the Laois SHC after a well-deserved win over Ballinakill in O’Moore Park today.
The win sets up a clash with local rivals Camross in the quarter-finals, while Ballinakill must take on a Borris-Kilcotton side which ran up a big win over Abbeyleix on Saturday.
Castletown made the brighter start, with Dylan Conroy firing over a couple of frees inside the opening three minutes. Eamon Jackman responded with a free for Ballinakill, but a third Conroy point soon had Castletown two clear once more.
They pressed home their advantage with two fine points from play by Aaron Gaughan before Ballinakill finally managed to produce a reply. It came from Jackman once more although this one was from play, as he rounded off a nice move by pointing from 45 yards out.
The Castletown response was swift and clinical, as Dylan Conroy launched over two more placed balls before Ryan Mullaney registered the score of the game. Winning possession from a Ballinakill puckout he charged up the left wing and, unable to catch the ball a third time, he flicked it up off the hurl and split the posts with an outstanding point from almost on the sideline.
He followed that up with a booming free from his own 45 yard line, as Ballinakill looked unable to get to the pitch of the game. Cha Dwyer’s point in the 21st minute looked like it might kicked them into gear, but Gearoid Gaughan and John Gaughan quickly put Castletown back on the front foot.
Jackman pointed for Ballinakill after that but Castletown were by far the slicker and more clinical side at this stage, and Conor Phelan and Gearoid Gaughan quickly stretched their lead out to nine points.
To Ballinakill’s credit they improved leading up to half time, as Eddie, Cha and Seamus Dwyer all pointed, before Eamon Jackman got another free. Castletown hit back in the midst of that run with a point from Martin Phelan, but he was denied another score on the stroke of half-time when his shot was waved wide by the umpire, despite appearing to be well inside the post.
Despite that misjudgment, Castletown were still in a strong position at the break, leading 0-14 to 0-8.
Ballinakill needed a bright start to the second half and they eventually got it, after seeing two long-range efforts for points hit the crossbar and an Eddie Dwyer shot for goal flash wide. Podge Lalor got them up and running in the third minute of the half with a point, which Joe McCormack duly cancelled out for Castletown.
Ballinakill were undeterred and over the next few minutes they picked off scores through Daniel Bergin, Jackman (free) and Lir McDonald to get back within one score, 0-15 to 0-12, after 43 minutes.
That should have set up a closely contested final quarter to the game, but in the next attack Castletown struck for a goal. A long-range free looked to be trailing off to the left, but Castletown kept it in play and and Gearoid Gaughan pounced on the loose ball to fire to the net.
The Ballinakill challenge all but dissipated after that, as Castletown resumed control of proceedings and chipped in with scores as they needed them.
Ballinakill threatened to set up a grandstand finish with Cha Dwyer found the back of the net from a free about 25 yards out, but Dylan Conroy quickly hit back for Castletown with a free, and Shane Cuddy added another from play moments later to wrap up a well-deserve win.
SCORERS – Ballinakill: Eamon Jackman 0-6 (0-5 frees), Cha Dwyer 1-2 (1-0 free), Padraig Lalor, Daniel Bergin, Evan Dunne, Seamus Dwyer, Edward Dwyer, Lir McDonald 0-1 each. Castletown: Dylan Conroy 0-8 (0-6 frees, 0-2 65s), Ryan Mullaney (0-1 free), Joe McCormack, Aaron Gaughan, Gearoid Gaughan 0-2 each, John Gaughan, Conor Phelan, Martin Phelan, Shane Cuddy 0-1 each.
BALLINAKILL: Paul Simms; Eoin Simms, Brian O’Mara, Michael Moran; David Phelan, John Walsh, Padraig Lalor; Daniel Bergin, Eamon Jackman; Lir McDonald, Cha Dwyer, Seamus Dwyer; Eddie Dwyer, Evan Dunne, Sean Downey. Subs: Dylan Byrne-Gray for Downey (half-time), Michael Jackman for Phelan (47 mins), Shane McEvoy for E Dwyer (53 mins)
CASTLETOWN: John Paul Bennett; Evan Cuddy, Fionán Cuddy, Martin Reddin; Shane Phelan, Ryan Mullaney, John Gaughan; Conor Phelan, Brendan Reddin; Gearoid Gaughan, Joe McCormack, Dylan Conroy; Joseph Phelan, Martin Phelan, Aaron Gaughan. Subs: Shane Cuddy for J Phelan (half time), Conor Walsh for A Gaughan (53 mins), Eoin Peters for G Gaughan (58 mins, inj)
REFEREE: George Boyhan (Clough-Ballacolla)
SEE ALSO – Check out all the Laois SHC coverage here