Clough Ballacolla too good for Rapparees as they advance in Leinster

Stephen Maher the standout player for the Laois side, notching 1-9

Clough-Ballacolla’s Cillian Dunne celebrates scoring a point against rapparees in the Leinster SHC. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

Clough-Ballacolla’s Cillian Dunne celebrates scoring a point against rapparees in the Leinster SHC. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

 

Clough Ballacolla (Laois) 1-17 Rapparees (Wexford) 0-12

The AIB Leinster club SHC hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for Clough Ballacolla over the years but finally they have registered a win beyond their borders.

Admittedly, the Laois champions didn’t have to travel outside Portlaoise to do it - and they’ll be back there on December 12th to play Raharney or Kilmacud Crokes - but this was a historic provincial win for Declan Laffan’s side, the club’s first.

Inspired by goalscorer and prolific point-poacher Stephen ‘Picky’ Maher who hit 1-9, Clough Ballacolla finished both halves strongly to register a fully merited win, erasing the memory of their 2011 and 2015 losses to Wexford opposition.

The big fear for Rapparees after a 10-week wait since shooting 6-18 in the Wexford final in mid-September was that they’d start slowly and take too long to reach the pitch of the game.

So when they led 0-4 to 0-3 at the water break and burst 0-8 to 0-4 clear with 27 minutes on the clock, Ryan Mahon doing the bulk of their scoring, all seemed okay.

Remarkably, they were outscored by 1-13 to 0-4 from there and only registered another two points from open play as underdogs Clough Ballacolla grew into the game and took over.

Four points in a row from the hosts to close out the first-half tied the game up at 0-8 apiece and Maher snuck in to control a loose ball and volley it to the net early in the second-half.

Leading now, Clough Ballacolla weren’t about to look back and while Rapparees reduced the deficit to a point in the 51st minute, they didn’t score again as the back to back Laois champions reeled off seven points in a row to advance to the semi-finals in style.

Clough Ballacolla: C Dunne; D Conway, D Maher, E Doyle; B Corby, M McEvoy, L Cleere; W Hyland (0-2), A Corby; R Phelan (0-1), J Walshe, S Maher (1-9, 7f, 1 65); S Bergin (0-2), W Dunphy (0-2), M Hennessy.

Subs: C Dunne (0-1) for Hennessy (42); J Dwyer for Walshe (55); S Corby for Hyland (65).

Rapparees: A Larkin; D Redmond, L Ryan, A Roche; T Foley; J Peare (0-1), B Edwards, J Kelly (0-1); K Foley (0-1), A Tobin; K Ryan, R Mahon (0-7, 5f), R Fox; L Connolly, O Pepper (0-2).

Subs: T Mahon for Fox (35); P O’Sullivan for Roche (39); J Kirwin for K Ryan (54).

Referee: P Murphy (Carlow).

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