Oulart-the-Ballagh tested to the limit

OULART-THE-BALLAGH produced a stunning performance to hold off a magnificent Clough-Ballacoola in this thrilling AIB Leinster Club SHC semi-final at Wexford Park yesterday.

Six points up at half time, Oulart-the-Ballagh were hit by a storming fightback that produced 1-2 inside the opening three minutes of the second half.

Oulart-the-Ballagh started with a flourish with Eoin Moore firing past Danny Hanlon after 90 seconds before Michael McEvoy opened the Laois account after three minutes.

The Wexford champions added points from Stephen Doyle, Michael Jacob and David Redmond to stretch 1-4 to 0-1 clear after just ten minutes. Four minutes later Clough-Ballacoola bounced back with a splendid goal from Michael McEvoy. With the visitors only able to add a further first half point from McEvoy, Oulart continued to pick off points through Eoin Moore, Shaun Murphy, Darren Nolan and Moore to lead 1-8 to 1-2 at the interval. But within two minutes of the restart, Clough-Ballacoola’s Willie Dunphy flicked a Willie Hyland cross to the net from close range. Points from Hyland and Michael Dunphy then cut the gap to a point (1-8 to 2-4) within three minutes of the restart.

But then Keith Rossiter, Darren Stamp, Shaun Murphy, Garrett Sinnott and Eoin Moore came to the fore for the hosts and Sinnott pointed after 35 minutes. A minute later he put wing-back Shaun Murphy in for a splendid goal. When Eoin Moore pointed a 39th minute free they had regained their six point advantage (2-10 to 2-4).

Clough-Ballacoola struck back a minute later when Willie Hyland’s 21 metre free was deflected over the bar by Paul Roche. The hosts then stormed downfield where Rory Jacob cut through for a fine goal to lead 3-10 to 2-5 with 19 minutes remaining. Points from Hyland and Stephen Maher reduced the deficit before a John Delaney free left three points separating the sides (3-11 to 2-11) with three minutes remaining before Moore delivered the insurance score. The Laois champions finished with 13 players after sub Alan O’Flaherty and Willie Dunphy were red carded late on.

Scorers for Oulart-the-Ballagh: E Moore 1-4, 3f; S Murphy 1-1; R Jacob 1-0; G Sinnott, M Jacob 0-2 each; D Redmond, S Doyle, D Nolan 0-1 each.

Scorers for Clough-Ballacoola: M McEvoy 1-2; W Dunphy 1-1; W Hyland (3f), S Maher 0-3 each; J Delaney (f), M Dunphy 0-1 each.

OULART-THE-BALLAGH: B O’Connor; A Kavanagh, K Rossiter, B Kehoe; S Murphy, D Stamp, L Prendergast; M Jacob, D Redmond; D Nolan, G Sinnott, S Doyle; E Moore, F Cullen, R Jacob.

Subs: N Kirwan for Cullen (18); P Roche for Nolan (35); D Mythen for Kirwan (48), A Kenny for Doyle (57).

CLOUGH-BALLACOOLA: D Hanlon; J Delaney, D Maher, J Doyle; T Delaney, B Duggan, C Coonan; S Hanlon, B McEvoy; T Delaney, M McEvoy, S Maher; D Bergin, W Hyland, M Dunphy.

Subs: W Dunphy for T Delaney (24); A O’Flaherty for B McEvoy (42).

Referee: D Hughes (Carlow).

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