Sport Hurling

Thursday 22 February 2018

Dunphy strike decisive for Ballacolla

Clough-Ballacolla 1-10 Portlaoise 0-11

Clough-Ballacolla held their nerve in a tight finish to claim their second Laois SHC title in three years in O'Moore Park yesterday.

Heavy favourites Ballacolla were made to battle all the way by a determined Portlaoise outfit suffering a fourth final defeat in five years.

Portlaoise started well, but Clough grabbed the game's crucial score in the 10th minute.

Bill Duggan won a Portlaoise puck-out and launched the ball back at their goalmouth, where Mick Dunphy was on hand to control, round the 'keeper and slot into an empty net.

Portlaoise were rocked, but they steadied themselves and had whittled the gap back to three at the break thanks to scores from Noel Costelloe and Tommy Fitzgerald.

The second half was a closely fought affair, with Portlaoise having the lion's share of possession but failing to turn that into scores. Despite holding Ballacolla's ace marksman Willie Hyland scoreless from play, they just couldn't take advantage at the other end.

When Costelloe eventually edged them back to within a point with three minutes to go, it looked set for a grandstand finish, but Ballacolla showed calm heads to close out the game. They snuffed out late Portlaoise attacks, and when Hyland slotted over his third free of the day, it capped off a hard-fought victory.

In the intermediate final, Ballyfin made up for losses in 2009 and 2010 with a 2-16 to 2-10 victory over Borris-Kilcotton.

SCORERS -- Clough-Ballacolla: M Dunphy 1-1, W Hyland 0-3f, M McEvoy, D Bergin 0-2 each, T Delaney, W Dunphy 0-1. Portlaoise: N Costelloe 0-6 (5f), T Byrne, C Healy, E Costello, T Fitzgerald, B Fitzgerald 0-1 each.

PORTLAOISE -- C Clear; C Healy, E Browne, B Smith; B Mulligan, H Coghlan, J Phelan; E Costello, K Murphy; T Byrne, N Costelloe, B Fitzgerald; C Taylor, T Fitzgerald, D O'Mahony. Subs: S Norton for Taylor (h-t), C Gleeson for Byrne (48, inj).

CLOUGH-BALLACOLLA -- D Hanlon; JA Delaney, D Maher, J Doyle; T Delaney, B Duggan, C Coonan; M McEvoy, S Hanlon; T Delaney, S Maher, B McEvoy; W Dunphy, W Hyland, M Dunphy. Subs: D Bergin for S Hanlon (18, inj), A Flaherty for B McEvoy (52).

Ref -- M Cleere

Irish Independent

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