Clough-Ballacolla will face Ballinakill in the ACHL Division 1 final, after the last round of games over the weekend threw up entertainment and controversy in equal measure.
Clough-Ballacolla were already assured of their place in the final before a ball was pucked in their game against Ballyfin last Friday. With three wins from three, they were ahead of Portlaoise on scoring difference with a game in hand, and they rubber stamped their place in the final with a 4-17 to 1-17 win in Ballacolla to finish the group stages as the only team with a 100% record.
After Camross’ win over The Harps, they had initially moved into top spot in Group B and secured a place in the league final themselves, but that all changed over the course of the weekend.
With Castletown-Slieve Bloom’s game against Ballinakill called off due to a waterlogged pitch in Ballinakill, the gam was re-fixed for Monday, but Castletown couldn’t field a team, and so awarded the game to Ballinakill, meaning they will now progress to the league final.
Both clubs will have to wait for a while before they play that game - September 19 to be exact - but the pairings for the first round of the SHC are now confirmed.
For the first year ever, championship pairings were decided by league placement, so clubs will have already known before the fixtures were confirmed who they were playing.
Portlaoise, second in group A, will play Castletown-Slieve Bloom, the bottom team in Group B. Borris-Kilcotton have set up an interesting match-up against The Harps, while Camross play Ballyfin and Rathdowney-Errill face Abbeyleix.
Games get underway this weekend, with the game between Borris-Kilcotton’s clash with The Harps the stand out tie of the round. Camross should have enough to see off neighbours Ballyfin, but with a good showing against Clough-Ballacolla and an impressive win over Rathdowney-Errill in the Palmer Cup already this year, Ballyfin, if they hit form, could make life very difficult Camross.
Abbeyleix have been steadily improving for the last couple of years but have yet to really make an impression in the SHC, and they will be hoping a tie against Rathdowney-Errill brings the best out of them. A knee injury picked up by Eoin Reilly will be of some concern to them, however.
Portlaoise will be favourites against Castletown-Slieve Bloom, who picked up no points in the league as they struggle with a raft of missing players.
All games are on this Sunday, with Portlaoise left to sweat to see if Cahir Healy will be released by Justin McNulty to play in their game.
If Laois beat Leitrim they will be in action again the following weekend, which could place Healy’s participation in the game in jeopardy.
See this week’s Leinster Express for full reports on the final round of league games in the ACHL Division 1