The Laois Senior hurling championship semi finals took place in O’Moore Park on Sunday and produced two entertaining encounters.
Below, we will take a more in-depth look at the two games:
1 – Two intriguing games for different reasons
The Laois Senior hurling semi finals took place on Sunday and threw up very entertaining games for different reasons.
After beating Castletown by 3-23 to 0-14 in the group stage, most people didn’t see how Clough-Ballacolla could be trouble on this occasion.
But Castletown were excellent and led at half time before dying out in the second half and being somewhat unlucky to lose by ten.
Rathdowney-Errill were favourites against Camross but the latter took no notice of the odds.
They were the better team but still needed a match winning save from keeper Tadhg Doran to bring them back to the final for the first time since 2018.
2 – Wides cripple Rathdowney-Errill
Rathdowney-Errill went down by two points to Camross in the end but it could have been so much different with better accuracy in front of goal.
They finished with 17 wides and 12 of those came in the first half when they were on top – leading by six points at one stage.
Camross hit three in the first six minutes but only hit another four in the remainder of the game and that was a massive factor for them.
3 – Should you start a lad carrying a knock or bring him on?
It is a conundrum that often faces a manager – what do you do with a player who is really good but is either carrying an injury or coming back from one?
Rathdowney-Errill had two of those yesterday in the form of Ross King and Mark Kavanagh. King has had a hand injury since the group stage and Kavanagh has had ongoing knee trouble.
Kavanagh was introduced in the 35th minute and King came on four minutes later. Both took a while to find their feet but Kavanagh ended up with four points and King slotted two as they dragged their side from six points down to level with five minutes to go.
Had they been on from longer or even the start, maybe they would have converted some of the chances that Rathdowney-Errill missed.
But maybe they would not have been able for much more than 20 minutes either way. It is something we will never know the answer to.
4 – Camross are still very much, Camross
That was like the Camross that won back-to-back championships in 2017 and 2018.
They were tested twice. Once when they fell six points down in the first half and then in the second half when they saw their lead evaporate and had to go again.
That resilience seemed to be lacking from them in recent years but when that is there, they are a different outfit altogether.
5 – Castletown’s young guns have scope for improvement
Castletown were back in a semi final for the first time since 2009 and did not look one bit out of place for much of the game.
And when you look at the team that started the game, perhaps only one of them are over the age of 30.
Ciaran McKelvely and Aaron Phelan are in their first year at adult level while Tadhg Cuddy, Daire Tobin, Joe Phelan and Aaron Gaughan are not too far ahead of them.
Most of the rest of them are in their mid-20s too so if they can continue to improve, the signs for the future have to be positive.
6 – Are there any vulnerabilities in Clough-Ballacolla?
Maybe the first half showed that there might be. They were loose enough at the back and Castletown got one goal and were unlucky not to have a second.
The team has changed too. Mick McEvoy is with the second team and Willie Hyland is now firmly a sub. Mark Hennessy is out injured but they will be glad to get Jordan Walshe on the pitch after his injury lay off.
They are still an awesome unit and they coped with the five week break well too.
7 – Remarkable sequence continues
That is now 13 Senior hurling championship wins in a row that stretches back to the 2020 season.
Should Declan Laffan’s men win the final, they will have three perfect years under their belt which will be a remarkable achievement.
The club’s Junior Bs and Intermediates also reached finals while the Minors are primed to do likewise. A great time for all in Clough-Ballacolla.
8 – What happens next?
We will be back in two weeks’ time for three big finals in O’Moore Park.
The Intermediate Hurling final will be on Saturday October 1 between Clough-Ballacolla and Mountmellick.
While the Premier Intermediate, Abbeyleix v Clonaslee-St Manman’s, and Senior finals will be on Sunday October 2.
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