A scoring burst of 1-2 before half-time proved decisive as Ballypickas emerged victorious over Castletown/Slieve Bloom by a margin of five points to seal their place in the county final against Timahoe.
Ballypickas were first out of the blocks with Ricky Nolan rattling the back of the net with less than a minute elapsed. MJ Lalor made a darting run through the Castletown/Slieve Bloom defence before unselfishly setting Nolan through on goal and the corner-forward made no mistake to give Ballypickas a dream start.
Castletown/Slieve Bloom however were unphased by their disastrous start, and quickly set about tearing down the Ballypickas lead. A brace of points from corner-forward Seamus Lyons reduced the deficit to the minimum, before MJ Lalor fired two frees to restore Ballypickas’ three point cushion with less than ten minutes on the clock.
Martin Scully and MJ Lalor were on hand once again to raise the white flag for Ballypickas, while Damien Brophy added a point and Seamus Lyons increased his tally to four points to leave two points separating the sides with eight minutes left in the half.
However Ballypickas took control of the game with 1-2 in the final minutes of the half with Ricky Nolan picking up his second goal of the afternoon. Pat Loughman glided through the Castletown defence before splitting the post for his first point and MJ Lalor slotted his fourth free of the day, before Nolan fired past Brendan Cuddy for the second time in the half to give Ballypickas a comfortable seven point half time advantage.
Both teams were slow to settle back into the game after the interval, and it took ten minutes for the first score to arrive from an MJ Lalor free. Castletown/Slieve Bloom soon found their footing and fired three points without reply from Seamus Lyons, JR Kingston and JP Campion to reduce the margin to five points.
MJ Lalor and Martin Scully added points for Ballypickas, before the game hit a sour note and fizzed out of control resulting in a thirty-man brawl that delayed the game by ten minutes. When the action finally restarted Daire McWey found his form to fire two superb points as Ballypickas looked to seal the victory.
Castletown/Slieve Bloom staged a late revival to fire 1-1 in the dying moments, but it was much too late and Ballypickas go on to set-up a county final clash against Timahoe.
Scorers - Ballypickas: Ricky Nolan 2-0; MJ Lalor 0-6, 0-5f; Martin Scully and Daire McWey 0-2 each; Pat Loughman 0-1. Castletown/Slieve Bloom: Seamus Lyons 1-5, 1-4f; JR Kingston 0-2; Damien Brophy (f) and JP Campion 0-1 each.
Ballypickas: Ray Dalton; Joe McEvoy, Paddy Gorman, Michael Walsh; Brian Lalor, Liam Lalor, Kieran Bowe; Pat Loughman, Adrian McDonald; Daire McWey, MJ Lalor, Ger Whelan; Ricky Nolan, Martin Scully, Paddy O’Brien. Subs: Shane McEvoy for Ricky Nolan; John Moran for Paddy O’Brien; Josh Lennon for Adrian McDonald.
Castletown/Slieve Bloom: Brendan Cuddy; Loughlin Hegarty, Adrian Dollard, John Lowry; Gearoid Lowry, Tom Delaney, Damien Brophy; Michael Butler, Eoin Dooley; JR Kingston, Padraig Cuddy, JP Campion; Tadhg Dooley, Martin Delaney, Seamus Lyons. Subs: James Tobin for Michael Butler.
Referee: Liam Moran