*Our Senior hurling final coverage is in association with Clement Herron Real Estate
Following a magical year for Laois hurling on the inter-county scene, today's Laois Senior hurling final between Borris-Kilcotton and Rathdowney-Errill looks set to bring down the curtain in style.
It’s been a long year for Rathdowney-Errill since their devastating loss to Camross in 2018’s decider. They have a chance now to put those memories behind them as they take on Borris-Kilcotton in the final, in what will be a repeat of the 2016 final in which the latter took home the Bob O’Keefe trophy.
That 2016 final will live long in the memory of those in attendance. A dramatic Ross King equaliser saw Rathdowney-Errill and Borris-Kilcotton finish level at 2-26 apiece in one of the greatest ever hurling games played in the county.
Rathdowney-Errill denied Borris-Kilcotton a maiden title when they recovered from two points down in injury time to rescue a draw. Neil Foyle's goal in the 45th minute had put Borris-Kilcotton five ahead at the time, but a rising tide of Rathdowney-Errill pressure eventually told, and the teams had to do it all over again two weeks later.
After the epic drawn game, there was huge anticipation around the county, as could be seen by the massive crowd which flooded into O'Moore Park. It was unlikely the replay would match the quality of that drawn game, but it was still an enthralling encounter from the first minute to the last. In the end, Borris-Kilcotton made history at O'Moore Park as they claimed their first ever Laois SHC title thanks to a hard-earned five point win over Rathdowney-Errill.
It’s been a strong campaign for both sides this year, but with the ease through which they came through Group B, many believe the lack of a test will be a detriment to Rathdowney-Errill, as proved by the narrow margin of victory over Camross in the semi-final. Borris-Kilcotton have already tasted defeat in this year’s championship and will be keen not to taste it again.
The journey to the final has been as smooth sailing as can be for Rathdowney-Errill, the exception of course being their semi-final clash with Camross. Group B made for light work for the team backed by a star studded cast of the county’s finest. It was a seamless transition for All-Star nominee Jack Kelly, Mark Kavanagh and and Laois captain Paddy Purcell on their return to the club duty as all three put points on the board to set the ball rolling for Rathdowney-Errill on their road to redemption. 1-13 in total coming from the aforementioned trio.
With Ross King and Eric Killeen also in the side, Rathdowney-Errill make for a strong outfit in this year’s championship. An eighteen point victory followed, the perfect start for John Delaney’s side and it set the tone for the rest of the group.
Castletown were next to be put to the sword on a scoreline of 4-16 to 0-11. A Paddy Purcell masterclass stole the show as the joint skipper notched 3-1 in total.
The result was enough to book a place in the semi-finals with a game to spare. Delaney’s men did not let up however as they powered past Portlaoise by twenty-three points to finish with the maximum points total.
All of this set up another meeting with Camross in the semi-finals. Having lost two of their group games, Camross were forced through a quarter final meeting with Castletown to ensure this mouth-watering meeting of last year’s finalists.
It was Rathdowney-Errill’s only real test of this year’s championship. A year on from sustaining a horrific injury in last year’s final, Ross King proved to be the hero in the most dramatic circumstances possible - a last minute goal to give his side a one point victory. It was retribution at last for King and his side as they stopped Camross’ bid for three in a row. They now look forward to a second final in as many years as well as an eighth in the last thirteen.
It wasn’t quite as straight-forward for Borris-Kilcotton as it was for Sunday’s opponent. Losing one of their three group games meant they had to settle for second in Group A and face the prospect of an extra fixture in their bid to reach the final.
They began their campaign with a victory of reigning champs Camross. A two point margin enough to secure Borris-Kilcotton their first ever championship victory over Camross. PJ Scully, who stepped away from the county set up earlier this year, was key as he ended the game with an impressive 1-10 haul.
Another 1-9 from Scully would not be enough to gain victory over Clough-Ballacolla in the following fixture for Borris-Kilcotton resulting in a four point defeat against the eventual group winners.
They bounced back in some style however as they fired five goals past a lowly Abbeyleix side to end the group with a twenty point victory. PJ Scully yet again proving his worth to Eoin Brislane with 2-9 on the day to bring his tally for the championship to a staggering 4-27, an average of thirteen points a game.
This victory put Borris-Kilcotton in second place in Group A and set up a meeting against Ballinakill in the quarter-final. A thirteen point win behind another dazzling display from talisman, Scully (2-9), put Borris-Kilcotton through to the semi-finals with relative ease.
For the people of Borris-Kilcotton, Scully's county hiatus was a blessing. He continued his red-hot form in the last four stage taking home eighteen of his teams twenty-five points in a seven point revenge victory over the Clough-Ballacolla side that defeated them in the group stages.
The battle hardened Borris-Kilcotton showed finishing top spot is not the be all and end all and made their way into their first final since 2016’s victorious campaign, and while Scully has been grabbing the headlines he is more than ably assisted by the likes of Matthew Whelan, Joe Campion and the two Dunphy's.
For the neutral, this weekend’s clash is a tantalising prospect. Two in form teams. Plenty of scoring ability on both sides. And a previous final meeting in 2016 providing history to the fixture.
Rathdowney-Errill’s county contingent and PJ Scully’s form in this year's championship are worth the price of admission alone. We’re bound to be in for a classic.
Throw-in is at 4pm in O’Moore Park.