Senior A Hurlers beaten by determined Clough-Ballacolla
LEINSTER SENIOR HURLING SEMI-FINAL - DEFIANT CLOUGH BALLACOLLA HOLD OFF CROKES
RTE Match Report - https://www.rte.ie/sport/hurling/2021/1211/1266223-picky-maher-leads-clo...
CLOUGH BALLACOLLA 1-16 KILMACUD CROKES 1-13
Clough Ballacolla and Kilmacud served up a gripping encounter on Saturday 11th December in Portlaoise.
Although the weather mitigated against free flowing hurling and “silky skills”, the commitment shown by both side was admirable in a game which never flagged and every ball was contested with ferocious physicality.
Crokes were 1st off the mark when centre back Mark Grogan played a great diagonal ball into corner forward Alex Considine who was about to skin his man before being fouled. Full forward Ronan Hayes tapped over the resultant free with 90 seconds gone. (KC 0-1 CB 0-0)
Clough midfielder Aidan Corby hit a fine equaliser from 45 metres a minute later. (KC 0-1 CB 0-1)
Corner forward Stephen Bergin then intercepted the puck out and stroked over a neat point to give Clough the lead after 3 minutes. (KC 0-1 CB 0-2)
Crokes Goalie Eddie Gibbons went more direct with the next puck out and after Hayes did well to keep a long ball from going over the end line, captain Caolan Conway scooped up a loose ball on the left and hit an efficient point with 2 defenders bearing down on him. (KC 0-2 CB 0-2)
Clough then created the moment which effectively gave them a cushion for most of the game; half back Robbie Phelan played a perceptive diagonal ball from his own 65 into half forward (and captain) Stephen “Picky” Maher on 20 metre line on the right side line. Maher evaded the challenge of corner back Davy Crowe before cutting in towards goal and driving a low shot which skidded off the ground into the net to give Clough a lead which they’d never relinquish.
(KC 0-2 CB 1-2)
Crokes reacted well and lion hearted centre forward Fergal Whitely won Gibbons’ puck out on the Clough 45 before stroking over a great point to settle Crokes nerves.
6 scores with 4 minutes 57 seconds on the clock! (KC 0-3 CB 1-2)
Picky Maher then hit a massive free from his own 65 out on the left touchline much to the pleasure of the home fans in the 9th minute. (KC 0-3 CB 1-3)
2 minutes later after Crokes corner back Jamie Clinton was harshly blown for over carrying, Maher stroked over another, this time from 20 metres on the right. (KC 0-3 CB 1-4)
On 12 minutes, Crokes indulged in some short passes around their own 45 and when it broke down, Maher played a clever hand pass to centre forward Jordan Walsh who tapped over from 30 metres. (KC 0-3 CB 1-5)
Maher then was awarded a “soft free” on the edge of the D when he fell over after minimal contact and he stretched the lead to 6.
(KC 0-3 CB 1-6)
Gibbons found midfielder Oisín O’Rourke with a good puckout at half way and he gave a neat “off the shoulder “ hand pass to wing back Cian O’Cathasaigh who came onto the ball at pace before carrying for 40 metres and striking a great point from the right to give the Crokes faithful something to cheer about on the stroke of the water break. (KC 0-4 CB 1-6)
After the intense scoring of the 1st quarter, Clough were somewhat subdued and it took Crokes 7 minutes to register the 1st score of the 2nd ¼, when O’Rourke hit a lovely point from 50 metres following good defensive work by wing back Brian Sheehy and a pass from wing forward Dara Purcell. (KC 0-5 CB 1-6)
The Clough fans were back on their feet a minute later when Bergin hit a massive point from the side line despite being under pressure. (KC 0-5 CB 1-7)
Hayes hit back with a free from 45 metres on 24 minutes but Clough corner Forward Mark Hennessy won possession from the puck out and fed Jordan Walshe who sent in a dangerous dropping ball which Gibbons did well to deflect over the bar. (KC 0-6 CB 1-8)
On 26 minutes Walshe sent a diagonal ball into Picky Maher in the left corner and he “arched” his run out to the right to send over another fine point. (KC 0-6 CB 1-9)
Clough were then guilty of “dithering” on the ball in the left corner and O’Rourke did very well to turn over possession before the sliothar broke to Hayes who hit a timely point from an acute angle. (KC 0-7 CB 1-9)
Crokes gave their fans something to hope for in the 2nd half when O’Rourke made a great run down the left before passing inside to Whitely who stroked over from the edge of the D in the 30th minute to narrow the gap to 4 poInts. (KC 0-8 CB 1-9)
Both sides had a few chances before Caolan Conway hit a great point on the run from 45 metres on the left following a nice pass from the hard working Lorcan McMullen. (KC 0-9 CB 1-9)
Maher replied with a free from 50 metres on 37 minutes and after a series of rucks for possession on the right, Whitely hit a “team lifting point” from close to the side line on 40 minutes. (KC 0-10 CB 1-10)
After an uncharacteristic missed free by Maher, Clough restored the lead to 4 pints with a great strike from wing back Brian Corby on the left side line 65 metres out. (KC 0-10 CB 1-11)
In the 44th minute, Whitley floated a line ball in towards the D and Hayes got the slightest touch to deflect it into the path of O’Rourke who cleverly ran to the right and used all of his skill to evade the oncoming defender before driving it past Dunne in the goal. (KC 1-10 CB 1-11)
Crokes won the resultant puck out and Dara Purcell was about to set up another attack but was very harshly blown for “over carrying”. This was a vital reprieve for Clough as Picky Maher nailed the resultant free from 65 metres. (KC 1-10 CB 1-12)
Gibbons found sub Mark Howard on the right side line with a fine puck out and Howard shipped a very heavy shoulder charge before hitting a great point on 45 minutes. (KC 1-11 CB 1-12)
On 48 minutes, Crokes were penalised for handling on the ground in a ruck and Maher again converted the free as the whistle sounded for the water break. (KC 1-11 CB 1-13)
Almost immediately Corby latched onto a ball on the right and found himself zoning in on goal and just as he “pulled the trigger”, corner back Davy Crowe made a brilliant block and Crokes cleared it to keep the match alive.
Both sides had some wasted chances after that before corner forward Stephen Bergin hit a lovely point from the left with 5 minutes left.
(KC 1-11 CB 1-14)
Crokes responded well and Hayes hit a free a minute later to reduce the deficit to 2 but Clough Full Forward Willie Dunphy restored the 3 point margin after Gibbons did well to avert a goal following a very dangerous ball into the area. (KC 1-12 CB 1-15)
On 59 minutes, Hayes nailed a free from 70 metres following a foul on Howard but following a short puck out, corner back Diarmuid Conway worked the ball deep into Crokes territory and laid it off to ….( who else?) Picky Maher who sent over another point much to the approval of the vocal Clough supporters just as the board went up for 3 minutes of injury time. (KC 1-13 CB 1-16)
With 3 minutes of injury time, Crokes did have time but were guilty of 2 wides and in the 64th minute had free on 40 metres. O’Rourke dropped it in short in an attempt to engineer a goal but the defence dealt with it and the final whistle sounded as the jubilant Clough players and supporters celebrated.
Crokes to their credit never gave up but the breaks that came their way in the Dublin final against Na Fianna just didn’t happen for them on this occasion and this was partly due to the relentless pressure from the Clough players throughout the game.
KILMACUD CROKES: R.Hayes 0-5 (4 f), O.O’Rourke 1-1, F.Whitely 0-3, C.Conway 0-2, C.O’Cathasaigh 0-1, M.Howard 0-1
CLOUGH BALLACOLLA: Picky Maher 1-8(6 f), S.Bergin 0-3, J.Walshe 0-2, A.Corby, B.Corby, W.Dunphy 0-1 each.
KILMACUD CROKES: E.Gibbons, D.Crowe, B.O’Carroll, J.Clinton, C.O’Cathasaigh, M.Grogan, B.Sheehy, O.O’Rourke, D.Mulligan, D.Purcell, F.Whitely, C.Conway(Capt), L.McMullan, R.Hayes, A.Considine.
Subs: P.Linehan for D.Mulligan, M.Howard for L.McMullen, J.Dillon for B.O’Carroll.
CLOUGH BALLACOLLA: C.Dunne, D.Conway, D.Maher, E.Doyle, B.Corby, M.McEvoy, L.Cleere, W.Hyland, A.Corby, R.Phelan, J.Walshe, S.”Picky”Maher, S.Bergin, W.Dunphy, M.Hennessy.
(Match Report by Diarmuid Coogan.)
Photo Credit - Stephen Dagg