Keenan leads the way as Camross edge tense encounter to retain title
Camross 2-15 Rathdowney-Errill 0-19
Camross retained their Laois SHC title, thanks to a nervy two-point win over Rathdowney-Errill in O'Moore Park yesterday.
They became the first side to hold on to the cup since Castletown in 2003, as they extended their stranglehold on the major competitions in Laois hurling.
They have now won back-to-back league and championship doubles, and were full value for the win.
Rathdowney-Errill had made a bright start, and the free-taking of Mark Kavanagh had helped them to push ahead.
Camross were lethargic during this spell, and were finding it hard to come up with scores.
Zane Keenan was knocking over placed balls and Ciaran Collier added one from play, but Rathdowney-Errill were 0-7 to 0-4 to the good after 17 minutes.
They were still in control in the run up to half-time, but the game turned in the 28th minute.
A flashpoint between a number of players saw two Camross men yellow-carded, but Rathdowney-Errill lost star forward Ross King to a facial injury, while Shane Dollard was also forced off at the same time, having tried to run off an earlier muscle problem.
Camross took advantage of the upheaval and points from Keenan and Martin Burke saw them draw level. Then, on the stroke of half-time, Eoin Gaughan picked up a breaking ball and raced through on goal before squeezing a shot over the line, and Camross lead 1-8 to 0-8 at half-time.
They kicked on after the interval. Rathdowney-Errill's shooting was poor during this spell, and they were made to regret it on 38 minutes.
Mark Dowling did well to claim a high ball into the penalty area, and he held off the challenge of Jimmy Corrigan before firing to the bottom corner.
Tomás Burke and Keenan added points, and Camross were now eight clear.
However, credit to Rathdowney-Errill. Mark Kavanagh's free-taking hauled them back into it, and with Tadhg Dowling adding three from play, they managed to get within two heading into injury-time.
That was as close as they got, though, as Camross repelled their late efforts for goals, as they held on to retain the Bob O'Keeffe Cup.
SCORERS - Camross: Z Keenan 0-7 (5f, 65), M Dowling 1-1, C Collier 0-3, E Gaughan 1-0, D Delaney, T Burke, M Burke, L Burke 0-1 each. Rathdowney-Errill: M Kavanagh 0-12 (10f, 65), T Dowling 0-3, P Purcell, R King, P McCane, B McGinley 0-1 each.
CAMROSS - T Dunphy; A Mortimer, M Moloney, J Phelan; L Burke, A Collier, M Burke; D Dooley, T Burke; C Collier, N Holmes, Z Keenan; M Dowling, D Delaney, E Gaughan. Subs: D Palmer for Dooley (ht), M Collier for M Burke (50), O Bennett for Holmes (57)
RATHDOWNEY-ERRILL - N Brennan; A Delaney, B Campion, J Corrigan; E Killeen, J Fitzpatrick, J Kelly; S Dollard, J Purcell; P Purcell, T Dowling, J Ryan; M Kavanagh, R King, P McCane. Subs: B McGinley for Dollard (28, inj), D Poynton for King (28, inj), E Bourke for Poynton (53), R Bowe for McCane (57).
Ref - J O'Brien (Portlaoise).