Clough-Ballacolla-Mountrath are the Laois MHC 'A' champions after coming from behind to claim a two point win over The Harps in O'Moore Park today.
Clough Ballacolla-Mountrath 0-10
The Harps 0-8
The Harps had lead for three-quarters of the game, but Clough-Ballacolla-Mountrath timed their late run to perfection, with Cillian Dunne central to their recovery, hitting five points in the second half.
With a strong wind at their backs for the first half, it was important for The Harps to start well, and they duly did. Wing-forward Conor Delaney fired over the opening score of the game with a little over three minutes played, and Mikey Monahan added another moments later.
Clough-Ballacolla-Mountrath responded with a superb point from Mark Hennessy, as his shot from distance was held up on the breeze before eventually dropping over the bar. The Harps continued to enjoy the bulk of possession, however, and restored their two point lead moments later with a free from Monahan.
He proved to be their most consistent source of scores in that first half, and he added two more points from placed balls to push his side into a four point lead at 0-5 to 0-1 after 16 minutes.
The problem for The Harps was that they weren't really threatening from play, as they struggled to get their forward line into the game.
Clough-Ballacolla-Mountrath almost made them pay for that soon after, as they came close to a goal. The ball broke kindly in the box for Adam Kirwan, and he whipped a powerful shot at goal only for Lorcan Fitzpatrick to make a stunning reflex save, tipping it over the bar in the process.
Cillian Dunne then narrowed the gap further with a free for Clough-Ballacolla, when his shot for goal was tipped over again, but the final score of the half went to The Harps.
Again it came from Monahan, and again it was a free, as he landed his fifth point of the half to see The Harps lead 0-6 to 0-3 at the interval.
Things quickly got better for The Harps on the restart, as Monahan had landed another point for them within seconds of the throw win. Cillian Dunne eventually responded for Clough-Ballacolla-Mountrath with a free, but both teams struggled for scores over the next ten minutes or so.
Ciaran Burke ended the barren run with a well-struck 65 for The Harps into the teeth of wind, but Clough-Ballacolla-Mountrath finally hit some form after that.
It started with a point from midfielder Kevin Mulhall, and then 15 year old Cillian Dunne took centre-stage. First he pointed a free before landing a superb point from the left wing, and he duly followed that with another free to level the scores at 0-8 apiece after 48 minutes.
The pace of the game and volume in the stand kicked up a notch after that, as both teams frantically went in search of scores. It was Clough-Ballacolla-Mountrath who found them, as Adam Kirwan landed a point from 30 yards out to put them ahead for the first time.
Cillian Dunne then edged them further ahead as he held his nerve over a tricky free from the left wing, and The Harps were now in big trouble.
That set up a madcap end to the game, as Clough-Ballacolla-Mountrath almost had a goal through Adam Kirwan, only for Lorcan Fitzpatrick to again deny him. At the end The Harps lofted a few balls into the square looking for a telling touch, but they just couldn't fashion the goal they needed, as Clough-Ballacolla-Mountrath held on for the win.
Scorers: Cillian Dunne 0-6 (0-5 frees), Adam Kirwan 0-2, Kevin Mulhall, Mark Hennessy 0-1 each.
Team: Finnian Cuddy; Pauric Brennan, Gearoid O'Neill, Dennis Meade; Emmet Saunders, Bryan Bredin, Darragh Hogan; Kevin Mulhall, Evan Hawkes; Killian Kirwan, Gearoid Williams, Joe Corby; Adam Kirwan, Mark Hennessy, Cillian Dunne. Subs: Josh O'Brien Holmes for Kirwan (29 mins),
Scorers: Mikey Monahan 0-6 (0-5 frees), Conor Delaney, Ciaran Burke (65) 0-1 each.
Team: Lorcan Fitzpatrick; Tiarnach Doheny, Thomas Walsh, Billy McEvoy; Ciarán Shortall, Ciarán Burke, Ben Dunphy; Aaron Grady, James Duggan; Rian Edwards, Mikey Monahan, Conor Delaney; Daire Quinn, Jim Kirby, Jim O'Connor. Subs: Steven Murphy for Kirby (57 mins)
Referee: Alan Doheny (Castletown)