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06 Dec 2021

PREVIEW: Clough Ballacolla set out on Leinster voyage as Wexford champions come to Portlaoise

PREVIEW: Clough Ballacolla set out on Leinster voyage as Wexford champions come to Portlaoise

Clough-Ballacolla will open their Leinster club senior hurling campaign on Saturday as they face off against Wexford champions, Rapparees.

The game will be shown under the watchful eye of the RTE cameras and will feature as their live game on Saturday evening with a 5.30pm throw in time in O'Moore Park, Portlaoise.

It has been a whirlwind few months for Clough Ballacolla having won both the 2020 and 2021 Laois senior hurling championship within three months of each other.

They defeated Borris-Kilcotton in both finals with the 2021 edition earlier this month proving to be a rip roaring affair.

Clough-Ballacolla found themselves seven points down at half time before roaring to life in the second half to pip the Borris-Kilcotton men at the post as a late Stephen Maher free clinched the win.

Their semi final win over Rathdowney-Errill was a similar story. Trailing by five at half time and a man down following the sending off to Eoin Doyle, they were under severe pressure but they produced a stunning comeback to enhance their reputation of a team that's never beaten until the final whistle.

While those type of comebacks are great, when they get down to brass tax, they will be looking to make sure that they don't leave themselves so much work to do in the second half on Saturday. Everything goes up a notch in the Leinster championship and with quality opposition in the shape of the Wexford champions, they will need to be on their guard.

Home advantage will be in their favour and they know O'Moore Park like the back of their hand at this stage.

They have had a few weeks off to rest the bodies and gear up for a new competition and while they are in bonus territory now, they will still want to go as far as they can in the competition.

They are straight into a quarter final and the winner of Saturday nights game will go into a semi final against the winners of Kilmacud Crokes and Westmeath champions Raharney.

Rapparees defeated St Anne's in the Wexford final to end a 43 wait for a County senior title and they put up a massive 6-18 on the day. Wexford full back Liam Ryan is one of their better known players and his potential tussle with either Picky Maher or Willie Dunphy will have a big bearing on the game.

Kevin Foley is another Wexford star in their ranks and he will Captain the Wexford men who will also be relishing having a crack at Leinster with the shackles and pressure off.

Former Wexford star Declan Ruth is the manager and they will come to Portlaoise intent on not falling at the first hurdle.

Clough-Ballacolla have proven that they are a force in Laois but they have the ingredients to prosper in the province as well provided they can put close to a 60 minute display together.

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