With the Senior and Premier Intermediate hurling championship semi-finals down for decision over the weekend, as well as the finals of the Intermediate and Junior grades, we look back at some of the main talking points from the weekend.
A lot of people gave Camross a real chance of winning this encounter on Sunday but Borris-Kilcotton had different ideas and were much the better team.
Colm Stapleton and Joe Campion drove them on from midfield, Enda Parlon, Matthew Whelan and Stephen Finan defended brilliantly at the back while PJ Scully and Aaron Dunphy continued their good form in front of goals.
Every time a Camross player was in possession of the ball, he was immediately put under intense pressure. It was relentless throughout and something that Borris-Kilcotton must bring to the final in two weeks time.
Clough-Ballacolla grind it out
Clough-Ballacolla have won championships in 2009, 2011, 2015 and 2020 – but this year they are seeking to defend their title for the first time. Only once before, in 2012, have they reached the final as champions.
After breezing through the group stage this year, they had to do this one the hard way and come from behind, with a man less, to see off pre-tournament favourites Rathdowney-Errill.
Eoin Doyle’s red card put them on the back foot but they simply never panicked. Jordan Walshe and Stephen Maher fired 15 points between them and they were so far ahead that the concession of two late goals made no difference.
Their win sets up a rematch of the delayed 2020 final from last August with Borris-Kilcotton and this one should be an absolute belter.
Playing the elements
The wind was a big factor in O’Moore Park at the weekend as a stiff breeze blew into the Town End for the five matches on Saturday and Sunday.
In four of the five of these, the team that played with the elements in the first half used it to build up a lead which ensured their victory.
The only exception was the final game of the weekend where Clough-Ballacolla came from behind – with a man less – to defeat Rathdowney-Errill.
Premier Intermediate gets down to last two
Ballinakill and Ballyfin will meet in this year’s Premier Intermediate hurling final after their wins over Portlaoise and Camross respectively on Saturday.
Ballinakill were very comfortable 2-16 to 1-12 winners over Portlaoise when they laid the foundation for their win in the opening half. With wind advantage, they started like a train and were 2-13 to 0-5 up at half time.
They could only manage three points in the second half but they had so much in reserve that a Portlaoise comeback, despite an honest effort, was never really likely.
In the other game, Ballyfin had to battle hard to see off Camross 2-19 to 3-13. They too played with the wind in the opening half but their 0-13 to 1-5 lead at the break ensured the second half was a proper contest.
Camross played really well to draw back level coming up to the second water break but Ballyfin finished well with Darragh Connolly causing problems when he went in to the full-forward line.
Camross were dealt a blow when Dean Delaney was given a straight red card in the final quarter and Ballyfin opened up six-point gap that was unassailable despite a late goal from a Mossy Keyes free.
It sets it up for a good final in two weeks time – and a repeat of the opening round game where Ballyfin beat Ballinakill – with the winners set to be promoted to senior for the 2022 season.
Trumera win intermediate again
Trumera will play in the Premier Intermediate grade once again in 2022 after seeing off Clough-Ballacolla on Friday night in the lower intermediate final.
Remarkably it’s Trumera’s third time in seven seasons to win this competition having previously done so in 2015 and 2017. But on both occasions they were relegated after just one season and their latest spell in this grade took a bit longer to get out of.
But this success means they avoid the label of having lost two county finals in the same year having been beaten in the 2020 final by Rathdowney-Errill back in June.
They were fully deserving winners here and with a number of young players they will fancy their chances of staying up in 2022.
Manager Damien Walsh from Ballinakill has guided them to two intermediate championship finals and a Division 2 league final in two Covid-disrupted seasons and though they’ve a Leinster club campaign yet to come, they can still reflect on two very promising campaigns.
Ballypickas reign supreme
On the same day that Trumera won the 2017 intermediate hurling final, Ballypickas won the junior title – and they were back on the winning podium again over the weekend in the same grades.
Ballypickas had to battle hard to get out of their group but once they did they saved their best for the knockout stages and led from start to finish against Abbeyleix in Saturday’s junior final even if they did have to endure somewhat of a nervous finish.
Though the competition has been restructured a couple of times – Ballypickas’s latest success mean they now sit atop the Junior ‘A’ roll of honour alongside Camross with eight titles – 1931, 1936, 1955, 1963, 1985, 1994, 2017 and 2021.
The O’Moore Park pitch
Great credit must go to the grounds staff in O’Moore Park for maintaining the pitch over the weekend.
In a normal year, O’Moore Park would be beginning a rest period with the club championships wrapped up at the start of October – but Covid has everything running a month late.
Saturday saw three matches played and two of those took place in driving rain – with heavy rain overnight too. However, the pitch was treated with sand on Sunday morning and it did hold up well.
It still has three more weekends to go and the weather is likely to continue to deteriorate as we head towards the end of the year – so plenty of work to keep it playable remains ahead.
SEE ALSO – Check out all the weekend GAA coverage here