Laois Shopping Centre Senior Hurling Championship Gr A Rd 1
St Lazerian’s Abbeyleix 1-14
FOR 30 minutes in O’Moore Park on Saturday evening St Lazerian’s threatened to pull off one of the greatest shocks of recent years in the senior hurling championships. They not only matched but outplayed hot favourites, Clough/Ballacolla, in O’Moore Park.
Spurred on by James Coffey’s 14th minute goal, Abbeyleix kept up the pressure and at one stage led by five points. And despite Clough/Ballacolla rallying, Abbeyleix still held a two point lead at half time but that all changed dramatically on the restart when normal service was resumed.
Yes, Abbeyleix provided a lot of the talking points after this game, the other big notable was the scoring of an amazing point. Goalkeeper Enda Rowland is well known for his long free taking abilities but on Sunday he went one better. Taking a puck out from the Abbeyleix end of the pitch, the sliotar sailed unerringly towards the target, dropped in over the Clough/Ballacolla defence, took one bounce and split the posts.
But it was not all about Abbeyleix. Clough/Ballacolla’s Stephen Maher’s eye was in as he accounted for 12 points of his sides 1-14 tally, nine of those coming from frees. Quite a display.
Clough/Ballacolla will also point to the fact they were without the services of Willie Hyland and John A Delaney who were serving out suspensions picked up in last year’s championship.
The early minutes went as expected with Stephen Bergin and Maher on target. But Abbeyleix responded positively with Colm Walsh and Eoghan Fennelly cancelling out those early points.
Maher and Dayne Peacock swapped points before Aidan Corby edged Clough/Ballacolla back in front. That all changed in the blink of an eye.
When Eoghan Fennelly drove a ball across the goalmouth Coffey was on hand to direct it to the net. Despite Maher pulling back a point Abbeyleix increased their advantage with points from Peacock and Rowland.
Again Maher with three points and a single from Eoin Doyle ensured Clough/Ballacolla kept in touch but with Colm Walsh, Peacock, Fennelly, Rory McEvoy and Eoin Reilly all raising white flags Abbeyleix held a four point lead approaching half time.
That advantage was back to two through Maher and Aidan Corby and Clough/Ballacolla were right back in the mix at the interval.
Now with wind assistance the eventual winners took control. They scored eight unanswered points on the restart, Maher (4), Corby (2) with one each from Mark Hennessy and Stephen Bergin and now led by six just 10 minutes into the new half.
Abbeyleix tried to rally with points from Fennelly, Coffey and Reilly but all the while Clough/Ballcolla kept tapping over the points and in the end won fairly convincingly and deservedly.
CLOUGH/BALLACOLLA: Danny Hanlon; Diarmuid Conway, Darren Maher, Eoin Doyle (0-1); Michael McEvoy (0-1), Lee Cleere, Ronan Broderick; Tom Delaney, Aidan Corby (0-4); Willie Dunphy (0-1), Jordan Walshe (0-2), Sean Corby; Mark Hennessy (0-1), Stephen Maher (0-12, 0-9fs), Stephen Bergin (0-2).
Subs: Robbie Phelan (0-1) for Hennessy (46m), Brian Corby for Broderick (47m), John Dwyer (0-1) for S Corby (55m)
ABBEYLEIX: Enda Rowland (0-2, 0-1 puck out, 0-1f); Oisin Carroll, Alan Lynch, Aaron Carroll; Barry Walsh, Jake Cranny, Mark Cahill; Declan Phelan, Rory McEvoy (0-1); Colm Walsh (0-2), Eoghan Fennelly (0-3, 0-1f, 0-1 ‘65), Dayne Peacock (0-3); Eoin Reilly, Jamie Coffey (1-1), Ciaran Byrne.
Subs: Ciaran Carroll for C Walsh (44m), Stephen Thompson for Peacock (44m), Daniel Coffey for McEvoy (51m), David Walsh for O Carroll (57m)
Referee: Alan Doheny (Castletown)