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Clough-Ballacolla far too strong as they ease past Clonad and put one foot in IHC semi finals

Clough-Ballacolla IHC
Photo Oonagh Maher

Clough-Ballacolla 2-21 Clonad 1-5
Intermediate Hurling Championship Group A Round 2

Clough-Ballacolla have one foot in the Intermediate hurling semi-finals following a comprehensive victory over Clonad tonight.

They will be guaranteed of their semi final place if Borris-Kilcotton defeat Park-Ratheniska-Timahoe at the weekend – and even if they don’t Clough-Ballacolla’s points difference is largely in their favour.

As for Clonad, they are now staring the relegation playoff in the face and will have to defeat Park-Ratheniska-Timahoe in two weeks time to have any chance of avoiding it.

They only scored one point in the final 41 minutes of tonight’s encounter and really struggled to compete after a bright opening.

Ciaran Finane slotted over two points in the opening minutes to get the game underway for Clough-Ballacolla while David O’Brien pointed for Clonad.

Clonad fired over three points in a row through Fionn Holland and David O’Brien (two) to give them the lead for the first time in the game – 0-4 to 0-2.

Clonad were much more impressive than their hosts in the opening quarter but they’re inaccuracy in front of goal cost them dearly as they scuppered four goal scoring opportunities which helped Clough-Ballacolla to remain in the game.

Clough-Ballacolla edged their way back into the lead as Shane Hanlon, Evan Hawke and Chris Rafter all raised white flags.

But Clonad went into the lead in dramatic fashion after 19 minutes.

A long puck out from Jack Kennedy was deftly flicked by Colin Delaney into the path of Dan O’Sullivan who charged forward and laid the ball off to Ray Killeen who smashed the sliotar into the back of the net.

That left Clonad two points ahead but amazingly they would only score once more in the entirety of the remainder of the game.

Clough-Ballacolla were not trailing for long though as they finished the half dominantly – scoring six points in a row via Chris Rafter (three), Ciaran Finane and Shane Hyland to give them a lead at half time – 0-11 to 1-4.

The one way traffic continued in the third quarter and Clonad’s best opportunity in the period was from Sean Egan when his shot whistled past the post.

Chris Rafter, Ray Cummins, Joe Corby, Shane Hanlon and Shane Hyland five unanswered points to extend their lead to nine points at the water break – 0-16 to 1-4.

Clonad finally ended their scoring drought on 47th minute when David O’Brien converted a free but that was a good as it got for them.

Clough-Ballacolla scored two goals in quick succession through Chris Rafter and Michael Dunphy seal their second victory in group A.

SCORERS – Clough-Ballacolla: Chris Rafter 1-6 (0-2 frees, 0-2 ’65s), Michael Dunphy 1-0, Ciaran Finane and Shane Hanlon 0-3 each, Joe Corby, Shane Hyland and Ray Cummins 0-2 each, Evan Hawkes, Damien Bergin and Finbarr Conway 0-1 each. Clonad: David O’Brien 0-4 (three frees), Ray Killeen 1-0, Fionn Holland 0-1

CLOUGH-BALLACOLLA: Danny Hanlon; Finbarr Conway, John Keane, Darragh Hogan; Damien Bergin, Brendan McEvoy, Lochlann Conway; Kevin Mulhall, Ciaran Mulhall; Shane Hanlon, Evan Hawkes, Padraig Brennan; Chris Rafter, Shane Hyland. Subs: Joe Corby for Mulhall (16, inj), Ray Cummins for Hawkes and Tom Delaney for Hyland (both HT), and Mick Dunphy for McEvoy (46), Tommy Nolan for Brennan (50)

CLONAD: Jack Kennedy; David McEvoy, Cillian Duff, Daniel Goode; John Noonan, Dean Delaney, James Whelan; Gareth O’Brien, David O’Brien; Fionn Holland, Sean Egan, Daniel O’Sullivan; Colin Delaney, Ray Killeen, Joe McEvoy. Subs: Gary Geoghegan for Delaney (HT), Niall Kirby for Whelan (55)

Referee: Mick Cleere (Rathdowney-Errill)

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