KILMACUD CROKES 2-18 CLOUGH BALLACOLLA 1-12
By Paul Keane at Parnell Park, Dublin
First-half goals from Brendan Scanlon and leading scorer Oisin O’Rorke eased Kilmacud Crokes through to the AIB Leinster club SHC semi-finals, earning a little bit of revenge in the process for the Dublin champions.
Kieran Dowling’s side were beaten by Clough Ballacolla at the semi-final stage in Portlaoise last December but, after a slow start at Parnell Park, got on top of the visitors and were full value for the nine-point win.
Their reward for the quarter-final win is a November 27 Croke Park semi-final clash with St Mullins of Carlow.
O’Rorke, who struck 1-11 in total, will hope to continue his fine form while inter-county attacker Fergal Whitely and midfielder Brian Hayes impressed too.
Clough Ballacolla started strongly but were rocked by the 25th minute dismissal of defender Brian Corby and finished with 13 players as attacker Willie Dunphy was sent to the line in second-half stoppage time.
Clough Ballacolla were 3/1 outsiders for last season’s semi-final and came into the rematch as underdogs again despite collecting their third consecutive Laois title.
That perhaps explained their charged up start with the visitors surging into a 0-5 to 0-2 lead and their feverish support raising the roof in the main stand with each score.
Ultra experienced attacker Dunphy was a key man initially for Clough Ballacolla and converted one sumptuous line ball during that early period of dominance.
Stephen ‘Picky’ Maher weighed in with two points also, both from frees, though they only added two more points in the half, another couple of converted frees by Maher.
The game turned on a moment of brilliance from Scanlon when he took possession around 15 metres out and elected to shoot for goal, his low shot sneaking in just inside the right upright.
Whitely added a Crokes point moments later before Brian Hayes took off on a terrific solo run through the centre of the Clough Ballacolla defence and laid off to O’Rorke who rippled the net again from the right of goals.
O’Rorke wrapped up the Crokes mini-scoring blitz of 2-2 with a point from long range and suddenly the Dublin champions led by 2-4 to 0-5.
Clough Ballacolla lost Corby to a straight red card shortly after the second Crokes goal. Referee Richie Fitzsimons acted after his attention was drawn to an apparent off the ball incident by the umpire.
After a relatively slow start, Crokes were now in a terrific position and hit the interval with a commanding 2-6 to 0-7 lead.
They might have enjoyed a greater advantage had inter-county attacker Ronan Hayes, a danger on the edge of the square any time a high ball came his way, not hammered his ground stroke just wide in the second minute.
Clough Ballacolla needed a fast start to the second-half but it was Crokes that reeled off four points in a row between the 33rd and 36th minutes to put significant daylight between the teams with an eight-point lead.
They retained that avantage with 20 minutes to go but Stephen Bergin’s 42nd minute goal for Clough Ballacolla, after a short free from Dunphy, made it interesting again and helped cut the deficit to just four.
Crokes weren’t about to let this one slip though and bursts of three and then four points without reply eased them to an impressive win.
Substitute Fionn O Ceallaigh was among the late scorers and will hope he has done enough to line out against St Mullins in a fortnight.
Kilmacud Crokes scorers: Oisin O’Rorke 1-11 (0-9f, 0-1 65), Brendan Scanlon 1-0, Fergal Whitely 0-2, Dara Purcell 0-2, Fionn O Ceallaigh 0-1, Brian Hayes 0-1, Cian MacGabhann 0-1.
Clough Ballacolla scorers: Stephen Maher 0-8 (0-7f), Stephen Bergin 1-1, Willie Dunphy 0-2 (0-1 s/l), Kevin Mulhall 0-1
Kilmacud Crokes: Eddie Gibbons; Brian Sheehy, Cian O Cathasaigh, Darragh Butler; Cian MacGabhann, Mark Grogan, Bill O’Carroll; Brian Hayes, Davy Crowe; Oisin O’Rorke, Fergal Whitely, Caolan Conway; Brendan Scanlon, Ronan Hayes, Dara Purcell.
Subs: Rob O’Loughlin for O’Carroll h/t, Fionn O Ceallaigh for Crowe 38, Micheal Roche for Scanlon 54, Cian Ryan for Brian Hayes 59, Tom Stakelum for Butler 62.
Clough Ballacolla: Cathal Dunne; Diarmaid Conway, Darren Maher, Eoin Doyle; Ronan Broderick, Lee Cleere, Brian Corby; Willie Hyland, Aidan Corby; Robbie Phelan, Tom Delaney, Stephen Bergin; Stephen Maher, Willie Dunphy, Cillian Dunne.
Subs: Lochlainn Conway for Delaney 37, Kevin Mulhall for Hyland 41, Mark Hennessy for Phelan 44, Padraig Brennan for Aidan Corby 52.
Referee: Richie Fitzsimons (Offaly).