Following a relatively competitive opening half, Clough-Ballacolla opened the floodgates in the second half to rack up a nineteen point victory at the expense of Castletown-Slieve Bloom in Kelly-O’Daly Park, Rathdowney on Saturday.
Clough-Ballacolla opened the scoring with less than thirty seconds on the clock thanks to a long range free from midfielder, Ciaran Hyland, to give them an early advantage. Castletown-Slieve Bloom hit back from the resulting puck out with Gearoid Gaughan converting a free of their own to level the sides at a point apiece.
Ballacolla went on to claim the next two points of the game, both from Stephen Bergin in the space of two minutes to see them take the lead once again. Ben Conroy’s first of eight pointed frees on the day cut the deficit to a point soon after, but Stephen Bergin’s third consecutive point restored a two point cushion for Ballacolla.
Ben Conroy was proving reliable from frees at the Laois star slotted two frees in quick succession to level the game with ten minutes played.
Clough-Ballacolla fired what would be their first of four goals on the eleven minute mark with Paddy Duggan picking up his first, before Picky Maher followed up with a free to take see Ballacolla take a four point lead.
Castletown quickly set about deconstructing the Ballacolla lead and did so through points from Ben Conroy (2) and Brendan Reddin to see the Ballacolla lead reduced to the minimum.
Ballacolla and Paddy Duggan both claimed their second goals of the day, before points from Picky Maher (2) and Aidan Corby followed. Two late points from Ben Conroy cut the Ballacolla lead to five points at the break.
The second half proved to be much less of a contest with a hugely impressive Clough-Ballacolla outscoring Castletown-Slieve Bloom by 2-13 to 0-5. Clough-Ballacolla progress to the next round with a comfortable nineteen point victory in their back pocket.
SCORERS - Clough-Ballacolla: Stephen Maher 1-10 (0-6 frees), Paddy Duggan 2-0, Aidan Corby 1-3, Stephen Bergin 0-6, Ciaran Hyland (f) and Willie Dunphy 0-1 each; Castletown-Slieve Bloom: Ben Conroy 0-10 (0-8 frees, 0-1 sideline), Gearoid Gaughan 0-2 (frees), Ryan Mullaney (free) and Brendan Reddin 0-1 each.
CLOUGH-BALLACOLLA: Brian Flaherty; Brian Costigan, Ronan Broderick, Brendan Doheny; Eoin Doyle, Bill Duggan, Conor Broderick; Ciaran Hyland, John Keane; Aidan Corby, Willie Dunphy, Ciaran Finane; Stephen Bergin, Stephen Maher, Paddy Duggan. SUBS: Paddy Whelan for Paddy Duggan; Aidan Bergin for Brendan Doheny.
CASTLETOWN-SLIEVE BLOOM: JP Bennett; Fergal Burke, Shane Farrell, James Dooley; John Lowry, Gearoid Gaughan, Gearoid Lowry; Ryan Mullaney, Martin Reddin; Ben Conroy, James Tobin, Evan Cuddy; Paul Croke, Darragh Delaney, Brendan Reddin. SUBS: James Delaney for Martin Reddin; Stephen Phelan for Darragh Delaney.