The fight at the bottom of the table heated up last Sunday evening in Abbeyleix, as the hosts welcomed Clough-Ballacolla to fight it out to see who would enter the last round of games facing a relegation battle.
Clough-Ballacolla went into this clash without 14 of their main players through county duty and the leaving cert, while Abbeyleix were missing brothers Dayne and Ryan Peacock.
The game started at a frantic pace with both teams looking to get ahead early, and within the opening minute full forward Tim Delaney, with the aid of the right hand post, put his side a point ahead. Young gun Dan Shanahan cancelled that lead out when he scored his first point of the evening.
The physicality of the game could be seen right across the pitch, however with four minutes on the clock Tim Delaney, the Clough-Ballacolla full forward was given his marching orders for an unsavoury incident.
After this the game began to settle and Clough-Ballacolla added two points from frees from Jim Doyle and Mick Dempsey.
Thanks to Abbeyleix ‘s corner forward Mark Cahill they went two points ahead, after Cahill scored a goal and a point from play. Clough-Ballacolla showed no signs of struggling due to having one less player on the field, and in answer to Mark Cahill’s contribution they replied with three points in quick succession. Rory Dunne in the middle of the park was really controlling the middle third of the field. The teams went in level at the break after exchanging scores.
Into the second half both sides again continued to exchange points, until halfway through the second half substitute Tommy Walton saw his shot end up in the net after Dan Shanahan’s shot rebounded off the post to put Abbeyleix a point in front with ten minutes to play.
However, the experience and class of Clough-Ballacolla came through as they eventually pulled out a two point victory.
Despite Clough-Ballacolla’s narrow win they are not completely clear of the drop zone, however they will feel they may be in a safer scenario than before, and they go into the final round facing league leaders Borris-in-Ossory/Kilcotton, while unlucky Abbeyleix will face The Harps.
SCORERS - Clough-Ballacolla: Danny Hanlon 0-7 (six frees), Mick Dunphy (both frees), Brendan McEvoy, Tim Delaney 0-2 each, Simon Doyle 0-1 (free); Abbeyleix: Mark Cahill 1-4, Eugene Hearns 0-4 (three frees), Tommy Walton 1-0, Dan Shannahan 0-1
CLOUGH-BALLACOLLA: Darren Bergin; Damein McEvoy, Willie Quigley, Brian Costigan; Lorcan Broderick, Jim Doyle, Shane Maher; Shane Hanlon, Danny Hanlon; Ken Phelan, Brendan McEvoy, Mick Dunphy; Sean Corby, Tim Delaney, Danny Campion.
ABBEYLEIX: Bob Cole; Alan Cahill, Tomas Moore, Oisin Carroll; Daniel Coffey, Stephen Reilly, Timmy Bonham; Rory Dunne, Thomas Doyle; Eugene Hearns, Ross Rielly, Dan Shannahan; Mark Cahill, Paul O’Shea, Conor Bergin.