Clough Ballacolla (Laois) 1-17 Rapparees (Wexford) 0-12

Stephen 'Picky' Maher led the line superbly with 1-09 for Clough-Ballacolla who upset the odds to register their first ever win in the AIB Leinster club SHC.

Beaten in all of their previous outings in the province, and twice by Wexford opposition in the last decade, the Laois champions finally thrived beyond their border with an impressive eight-point win.

Strong finishes to both halves helped Declan Laffan's men to secure victory though Maher's goal early in the second-half was the decisive score, putting them into a lead they would hold onto.

Clough Ballacolla finished with the last seven points of the game and outscored The Rapps by 1-09 to 0-04 in the second-half, conjuring their very best form when it was required.

Their reward is a semi-final clash with Kilmacud Crokes or Raharney back in Portlaoise on 12 December.

Rapparees will be desperately disappointed with their performance, burning out after a decent start which could have something to do with the giant 10-week, 69-day gap, since their county final was played back in mid-September.

Stephen Maher of Clough-Ballacolla in action against Rapparees' Anthony Roche

The visitors must have feared a slow start after such a long break from competitive action though they edged the opening quarter by a point.

A couple of misjudged passes, some fumbled balls and a number of wides undermined the Clough Ballacolla effort initially though they improved significantly as the game wore on.

Mark Hennessy, for instance, back in the team after illness, pulled one great catch out of the sky at midfield early on only to see the ball turned over moments later.

On another occasion, a Clough Ballacolla defender was miles out with an attempted pass that flew into the crowd, drawing groans from the home supporters.

Rapparees set up with seven defenders again, Tommy Foley wearing number 14 but dropping deep to shore up the rearguard, leaving Lee Cleere as the extra man at the back for Clough Ballacolla.

Foley made one early intervention that led to a fine Jack Kelly point from the left wing though it was humdrum enough fare generally in biting cold conditions with Rapparees leading 0-04 to 0-03 at the water break.

Rapparees' Alan Tobin in possession against Robbie Phelan of Clough-Ballacolla

They would open up a double scores - 0-08 to 0-04 - advantage by the 27th minute with three points in a row at one stage from Oisin Pepper and free-taker Ryan Mahon.

Having struck 6-18 in the Wexford final, Rapparees looked like they might now lift off but Clough-Ballacolla suddenly burst into life approaching half-time, upping the ante with crisper, more clinical, efficient hurling that yielded four points in a row.

Maher, who struck the winning point in the Laois county final earlier this month to secure back to back titles, was among the scorers along with Robbie Phelan.

Now it was Rapparees' turn to make the unforced errors and Dillion Redmond, after taking a short puck-out, was punished for a misjudged pass when Willie Dunphy swept in for a Clough-Ballacolla score, levelling it at half-time 0-08 to 0-08.

Maher's goal a minute into the second-half was the game's crucial score and put the hosts into a lead they wouldn't relinquish.

A line ball caused confusion in the Rapparees defence and Maher expertly sneaked in to control a loose ball and cheekily chip it beyond the goalkeeper.

There was an unfortunate moment for Rapps when team-mates Anthony Roche and Mahon crashed into eachother, forcing Roche's withdrawal.

It summed up a day that went badly wrong for the Wexford men. They did briefly get the margin down to a single point after Kevin Foley's 51st minute point, a score that was initially ruled a wide by an umpire before being given on the advice of a linesman.

But they didn't score again and were powerless to prevent Clough Ballacolla from reeling off seven points in a row, Maher, Willie Dunphy and substitute Cillian Dunne all finding their range to the delight of their supporters.

Clough Ballacolla: Cathal Dunne; Diarmaid Conway, Darren Maher, Eoin Doyle; Brian Corby, Michael McEvoy, Lee Cleere; Willie Hyland (0-02), Aidan Corby; Robbie Phelan (0-01), Jordan Walshe, Stephen Maher (1-09, 0-07f, 0-01 65); Stephen Bergin (0-02), Willie Dunphy (0-02), Mark Hennessy.

Subs: Cillian Dunne (0-01) for Hennessy 42, John Dwyer for Walshe 55, Sean Corby for Hyland 65.

Rapparees: Anthony Larkin; Dillion Redmond, Liam Ryan, Anthony Roche; Tommy Foley; James Peare (0-01), Ben Edwards, Jack Kelly (0-01); Kevin Foley (0-01), Alan Tobin; Kevin Ryan, Ryan Mahon (0-07, 0-05f), Ricky Fox; Lenny Connolly, Oisin Pepper (0-02).

Subs: Tomas Mahon for Fox 35, Peter O'Sullivan for Roche 39 (inj), Jack Kirwin for K Ryan 54.

Referee: Patrick Murphy (Carlow).