Clough-Ballacolla 3-16 Mountmellick 2-11
Laois Shopping Centre IHC Round 3
Clough-Ballacolla are through to the semi finals of the Intermediate hurling championship following an eight point win over Mountmellick in Trumera this afternoon.
Clough-Ballacolla’s win, coupled with Borris-Kilcotton’s victory over Park-Ratheniska-Timahoe, meant that those two teams, along with Mountmellick were all deadlocked at the top of the group on four points and points difference was used to separate them.
In the end, Clough-Ballacolla (+16) finished top with Borris-Kilcotton (+5) and Mountmellick (0) in third.
It all means that Clough-Ballacolla will play Trumera in one semi final and Borris-Kilcotton will face Rathdowney-Errill in the other.
Clough-Ballacolla got goals at crucial times in this one with teenager Kevin Mulhall unplayable at times and his tally of 2-2 was highly impressive.
Clough-Ballacolla made a fast start to this one as Shane Hanlon, Chris Rafter and Kevin Mulhall all pointed in the opening minutes to give them a commanding lead.
James Hilliard opened Mountmellick’s account from a free but Kevin Mulhall quickly wiped out the score before both teams goaled either side of the tenth minute.
The first came via Emo footballer Nigel Murphy who cut through the Ballacolla defence to rattle the net but teenager Kevin Mulhall was getting great joy down the other end and he rose a green flag immediately in response.
Mullhall took his tally to 1-2 a moment later but James Hilliard hit back with a long range free for Mountmellick as we approached the first water break.
He pointed again from another free but Ballacolla took a 1-4 to 1-3 lead at that stage.
With the wind blowing straight across the field in Trumera, both teams were struggling for scores but Mountmellick’s Hilliard level the game for the first time after 25 minutes with his fourth free.
And they then took the lead for the first time three minutes later when Mick Bermingham scored a cracker of a point from a considerable distance.
James Hilliard pushed Mountmellick two clear with his first from play but Ballacolla, who had now gone 19 minutes without a score, finally managed to trouble the umpires as we approached first half injury time through Shane Hanlon.
Hanlon pointed another free but Mountmellick were on top now and they pushed on before the break as Hilliard (free) and Redmond McEvoy pointed to leave it 1-8 to 1-6 at half time to Mountmellick.
But the game swung dramatically Clough-Ballacolla’s way on the resumption of play as they scored two goals in as many minutes.
The first came when a high ball was pumped into the Mountmellick square where Canice Coonan won it and drove it to the net.
And then moments later that man Mulhall carved his way through before finding the bottom corner of the net.
Nigel Murphy responded with a point for Mountmellick but they were rattled now as three Shane Hanlon frees in a row gave Ballacolla a six point lead after 40 minutes.
Nigel Murphy once again hit back for Mountmellick but a Damien Bergin effort made it 3-10 to 1-10 as we entered the final water break.
Mountmellick needed a huge final quarter to have any chance and they got a free from James Hilliard when play resumed but Shane Hanlon instantly responded in kind.
Mountmellick needed goals to have any hope but instead a Chris Rafter point put the game beyond them as we entered the closing few minutes.
And it was that score that seemed to break Mountmellick as Ballacolla ran away with it in the end thanks to later scores from Chris Rafter and Shane Hyland.
James Hilliard did smash a late 21 yard free to the net but that was only a mere consolation for Mountmellick who are out.
SCORERS – Clough-Ballacolla: Kevin Mulhall 2-2, Shane Hanlon 0-7 (all frees), Canice Coonan 1-0, Shane Hyland 0-3, Chris Rafter and Damien Bergin 0-2 each Mountmellick: James Hilliard 1-7 (1-6 frees), Nigel Murphy 1-2, Mick Bermingham 0-1, Redmond McEvoy 0-1
CLOUGH-BALLACOLLA: Tommy Nolan; Darragh Hogan, John Keane, Finbar Conway; John Doyle, Brendan McEvoy, Johnny Finane; Ciaran Finane, Jim Doyle; Shane Hanlon, Damien Bergin, Chris Rafter; Shane Hyland, Canice Coonan, Kevin Mulhall. Subs: Ray Cummins for C Finane (13), Craig Saunders for Cummins (28)
MOUNTMELLICK: Cathal Flynn; Jarlath Connolly, Ian Fennelly, Eddie Melia; David Fennelly, Laurence Kenny, Redmond McEvoy; Peter Dunne, Bernard Rochford; John Connolly, Barry Mangan, Nigel Murphy; Mick Bermingham, Donnacha Hartnett, James Hilliard. Subs: Sean Mangan for Dunne (38), Ciaran Rochford for Kenny (41), Chris Hartnett for J Connolly (46)
REFEREE: Eoin Scully (Camross)