Harry seals deal
Late goal earns win for Cloughbawn
A HARRY Kehoe goal with just over one minute of normal time remaining decided the outcome in Innovate Wexford Park on Saturday as Cloughbawn eventually shook off the persistent HWH-Bunclody challenge to advance to The Courtyard Ferns Intermediate hurling championship final.
The long-serving county player initially lost his footing as he latched on to a handpass from Alan Carton at the Clonard end, but he still had the composure to direct a shot beyond Art O’Neill and ensure the form team are now just 60 minutes away from an immediate return to the top flight.
Cloughbawn had to dig very deep for this hard-earned victory, and they were grateful for a lifeline in the form of an M.J. Furlong goal near the end of a below-par firsthalf from their point of view.
A crossfield Colm Kehoe ball found midfield partner Páidí Cullen who easily rounded a defender before handpassing to the veteran corner-forward, and his kicked finish brought the eventual winners back to level terms (1-7 to 0-10).
However, HWH-Bunclody responded well with three points in added time from free-taker Billy Kelly (two) and Peter Atkinson, having shot just one wide in the course of building up that 0-13 to 1-7 interval lead.
Cloughbawn put early points on the board via Bob Whitty and Harry Kehoe, with the latter closely policed by Martin O’Connor but drifting from the right wing to the left touchline from where he split the posts.
HWH-Bunclody captain Aidan Nolan was very prominent in the first-half, and he picked off a brace of points on either side of a converted long-range free from commanding centre-back Seán Kenny to push his side 0-3 to 0-2 clear by the ninth minute.
Nolan and Kevin Dunne had shots on goal blocked during that opening period and, although Billy Kelly pointed from the two ’65s that followed, the outcome might have been different if the green flag was raised on either occasion.
The fact that the six starting HWH-Bunclody forwards managed only three points between them is a tribute to the solidity of the Cloughbawn defence, and they remained strong despite the loss of full-back Tomás Furlong through injury early in the second-half.
HWH-Bunclody led by 0-5 to 0-4 at the end of the opening quarter after Billy Kelly (’65) and Eddie Black swapped points with Harry Kehoe and M.J. Furlong, and the latter supplied the pass for Cloughbawn captain Barry Carton to equalise in the 16th minute.
Corner-back Matty Byrne chipped in with a point in between two more Kelly placed balls as a three-point gap was created for the first time, but that was quickly erased as Harry Kehoe was on target from a free and a ’65.
Indeed, Cloughbawn came very close to rattling the net, as the latter score arose after Art O’Neill dived to his right to make a superb save from a venomous Alan Carton pull in the 23rd minute.
Eddie Black and Billy Kelly (’65) left HWH-Bunclody 10-7 ahead before that M.J. Furlong goal, but it was clear that Cloughbawn had a lot to do after their rivals had restored that three-point gap by half-time.
There was a huge bonus for the side relegated from Senior ranks last year in the 34th minute when the talented Connal Flood made his re-appearance after a long injury lay-off.
Harry Kehoe knocked over a free after a powerful run by his namesake, Colm, but Cloughbawn then had to improvise as the loss of Tomás Furlong led to his brother, M.J., moving to corner-back.
Free-takers Kelly and Kehoe exchanged points before Flood intercepted a poor HWH-Bunclody handpass and left one between them, and another Kehoe placed ball from his own 65-metre line levelled matters in the 42nd minute (1-11 to 0-14).
Kehoe (free and play) then gave the favourites a lead they would never relinquish, even though HWH-Bunclody managed to narrow the gap to the minimum on three separate occasions.
That happened first when Seán Kenny latched on to a superb crossfield Aidan Nolan pass in the 49th minute (1-13 to 0-15).
Barry Carton caught the puckout and sent his high shot between the posts, only for Billy Kelly to score his first point from play after a Nolan pass.
A fine point by Bob Whitty under heavy pressure made it 1-15 to 0-16 for Cloughbawn in the 55th minute, and their rivals posted three wides from an overall total of eight before Eoin Kelly set up Billy Kelly to leave a replay a distinct possibility.
That likelihood disappeared in the 59th minute when Harry Kehoe ghosted in behind the defence to the right of goal where he was spotted by Alan Carton for that match-winning major.
Peter Atkinson had a shot blocked in added time before Billy Kelly closed the scoring with a consolation point for HWH-Bunclody whose loss will make them all the more determined not to suffer a similar fate at the same stage of the football championship against Crossabeg-Ballymurn next Saturday.
It was their second successive defeat in the hurling semi-final, and third in four seasons, whereas Cloughbawn will now contest this decider for the first time since 1973 when their one-point win over St. Martin’s earned an unbroken involvement in Senior ranks right up to September of last year.
Cloughbawn: Noel Carton; Gavin Murphy, Tomás Furlong, James Dempsey; Barry Kehoe, Conor Harrington, Johnny Cullen; Páidí Cullen, Colm Kehoe; Harry Kehoe (1-9, 0-5 frees, 0-1 ’65), Alan Carton, Paul Foley; Bob Whitty (0-2), Barry Carton (capt., 0-2), M.J. Furlong (1-1). Subs. - Connal Flood (0-1) for Foley (34), Joey Lawlor for T. Furlong, inj. (36).
HWH-Bunclody: Art O’Neill; Matty Byrne (0-1), Colm Farrell, Conor Crean; John Dunne, Seán Kenny (0-2, 1 free), Martin O’Connor; Aidan Nolan (capt., 0-2), Billy Kelly (0-10, 5 frees, 2 ’65s); Tadhg Kelly, Eoin Kelly, Eddie Black (0-2); Kevin Dunne, Peter Atkinson (0-1), Cathal Doyle. Subs. Jason Cowman for Doyle (44), Enda Slevin for K. Dunne (53).
Referee: Shane Quinn (Ballygarrett).
Peter Atkinson of HWH-Bunclody flicks the ball away from Cloughbawn’s first-half goalscorer, M.J. Furlong.
Peter Atkinson stretches to hold on to possession with Tomás Furlong of Cloughbawn breathing down his neck.
James Dempsey (Cloughbawn) bats the ball away from Kevin Dunne.
Seán Kenny takes a tumble as Colm Kehoe (Cloughbawn) moves in.