GAA: Clough-Ballacolla topple Kilmacud Crokes

The Laois club will contest the Leinster Senior Club Hurling final in Croke Park on December 19th.
GAA: Clough-Ballacolla topple Kilmacud Crokes

Muireann Duffy

Laois' Clough-Ballacolla have bested Dublin dual-champions Kilmacud Crokes in the Leinster Club Hurling semi-final.

The Laois men had the stronger start, spurred on by a fourth minute goal from Stephen 'Picky' Maher. Shaken by Clough-Ballacolla's early intent, Crokes struggled to stay adrift, finding themselves trailing 1-6 to 0-4 at the first-half water break.

The Dubliners came back strong in the second quarter with points from Cian Ó Cathasaigh, Óisin O'Rourke and Ronan Hayes aiding their charge, but an equal effort from the homeside left it at 1-9 to 0-8 in Clough-Ballacolla's favour at the break.

Knowing what they needed to get themselves back into contention, O'Rourke supplied the goal for Crokes just shy of midway through the second half, narrowing the margin to just a single point.

Clough-Ballacolla Kilmacud Crokes Hurling Clough-Ballacolla's Stephen Maher is tackled by Davy Crowe of Kilmacud Crokes. Photo: INPHO/Bryan Keane

Unphased however, Picky Maher was back again to claim the next point from a free a minute later, before adding another in the 48th minute.

Still two up at the second-half water break, Clough-Ballacolla's lead felt under serious threat with Crokes' growing momentum and track record of late comebacks, but quick points from Stephen Bergin and Hayes gave them some much needed breathing room with the clock ticking away.

Three points down as the game entered three minutes of additional time, Crokes were once again in need of a goal.

Amid the frantic push to level, a cool head was needed but none emerged as a series of long balls sailed wide, each eating up valuable time and sealing the Laois champions' spot in the Leinster final.

With the game ending 1-16 to 1-13, Clough-Ballacolla will now face either Ballyhale Shamrocks of Kilkenny or Offaly's St Rynagh's in the Leinster Hurling Club final, scheduled for Sunday, December 19th in Croke Park.

Earlier, Roscommon's Padraig Pearses also beat Galway's Mountbellew-Moylough 1-8 to 1-7 in their Connacht Club Senior Football semi-final at Hyde Park.

They will play Knockmore of Mayo in province's final next month.

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