Castletown 1-16 Ballinakill 1-15
Laois Shopping Centre SHC Relegation Final
Castletown picked the right time to find some form as they edged out Ballinakill in Friday night’s Laois SHC relegation playoff in the LOETB Centre of Excellence.
Having lost their three group games by nine, thirty and twenty-seven points respectively, the one-time powerhouses of Laois hurling looked doomed for a stint in the intermediate ranks.
However, having installed Paddy Mullaney as their manager they managed to dig their heels in and found some form to retain their status. For Ballinakill, it is a return to the second tier of Laois club hurling for the first time since 2014, when they won the SHC ‘A’ title.
They were trailing for most of this game and just couldn’t get enough cutting edge into their attack to get themselves into a winning position. They did manage to stay competitive throughout though, getting back to within a point late in the game, but they just ran out of time.
They had started brightly, leading 0-4 to 0-2 after seven minutes, with two Eamon Jackman frees and points from Lir McDonald and Evan Dunne getting them ahead.
Castletown took a while to settle into the game, but once they got up and running they took control. Ryan Mullaney started the run with a nice point, and a Tadgh Cuddy free then brought them level.
Having had little cause for confidence this year, those scores seemed to do the trick and they rattled off four more without reply, as Cuddy knocked over a brace a frees, Mullaney fired over one from distance and Ben Reddin also hit the target.
That saw them four up at the water break, but they wouldn’t score again before half-time. Ballinakill didn’t really make enough inroads during that period though, although two late points in the half from Jackman (free) and Seamus Fitzpatrick got them within two at the changeover, 0-8 to 0-6.
The second half was evenly contested over the opening ten minutes or so, as Castletown went back four in front only for a superb free from Jackman to keep Ballinakill in the game. However, a crucial score would follow within seconds of Jackman’s effort.
From the puckout, Castletown worked the ball to Tadgh Cuddy, and he raced clear and fired to the bottom corner.
Ballinakill were in big trouble now but responded well, Cha Dwyer and Jackman (free) pointing before the water break, leaving the score 1-12 to 0-10.
Cathal O’Shaughnessy was introduced for Ballinakill during this break and he wasted no time in making an impact, as he fired in a superb goal from a tight angle. Sean Downey then got a point from midfield and Ballinakill were back within one.
The game was there to be won now, and it was Castletown who came up with the scores when they were needed. They hit the next four points of the next five points in the game to go four clear with normal time elapsed.
Ballinakill did manage to eat away at that lead, paring it down to one deep in injury time, but they just couldn’t get closer than that, as Castletown held on for the win.
SCORERS – Castletown: Tadgh Cuddy 1-5 (0-5 frees), Ryan Mullaney 0-4 (0-3 frees), Ben Reddin 0-3, Joe Phelan 0-2, Martin Phelan 0-1, Shane Phelan 0-1. Ballinakill: Eamon Jackman 0-5 (all frees), Cathal O’Shaughnessy 1-1, Seamus Fitzpatrick 0-2, Sean Downey 0-2, Chris Bergin 0-2, Lir McDonald 0-1, Evan Dunne 0-1, Dan Bergin 0-1.
CASTLETOWN: John Paul Bennett; Evan Cuddy, Adrian Dollard, John Gaughan; Eoin Peters, Conor Phelan, Martin Reddin; Ryan Mullaney, Shane Cuddy; Martin Phelan, Ben Reddin, Shane Phelan; Joe Phelan, Conor Walsh, Tadgh Cuddy.
BALLINAKILL: Paul Simms; Ian Shanahan, Padraig Lalor, Michael Moran; Lir McDonald, Sean Downey, Brian O’Mara; Eamon Jackman, TJ Lalor; Seamus Fitzpatrick, Cha Dwyer, Evan Dunne; Seamus Dwyer, Dylan Byrne Gray, Cian O’Shaughnessy. Subs: Cathal O’Shaughnessy for S Dwyer (49 mins), Dan Bergin for TJ Lalor (63 mins, inj).
REFEREE: Brochan Reilly (Portlaoise)
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