Laois Shopping Centre Senior Football Championship Rd 1
By Pat Delaney
THESE two produced great excitement in their two league clashes earlier this year. O’Dempsey’s secured a vital win in their second meeting after the sides ended all square in the first game.
On Sunday evening in O’Moore Park Graiguecullen were on a mission and signalled their intentions with a goal within a minute when Aaron Forbes got inside the defence to shoot past the keeper. The same player was to go on and play a crucial role in his side’s victory.
With O’Dempsey’s having won the ACFL Division 1 crown a few weeks back they would have gone into this game as favourites.
Forbes was to add a point from play before O’Dempsey’s opened their account with a Matthew Finlay point.
Eight minutes into the game Danny Bolger, the Graiguecullen keeper, kicked a free straight between the uprights that put his side in front by 1-2 to 0-3 and immediately O’Dempsey’s were wide from a close in free.
Then Aaron Forbes kicked a beauty of a point while O’Dempsey’s responded with a brace from Matthew Finlay. Jamie Parr replied for Graiguecullen from play.
Six minutes before the interval Graiguecullen full forward Ross Hennessey saw his effort for goal well saved by O’Dempsey’s keeper, Padraig Bannon, but the powerful Forbes caught the rebound and he made no mistake from an acute angle.
With Mark Timmons getting his name on the score sheet Graiguecullen went six ahead. Two minutes later the full back had doubled his tally but O’Dempsey’s finished well with points by Mark Barry and Micheál Finlay.
At the break Graiguecullen held a five point lead, 2-6 to 0-7.
O’Dempsey’s brought on Rory Bracken for the second half and he had a big influence for a while. Brian Byrne opened the second half scoring with a point but Matthew Finlay responded with a brace from play and a placed ball.
When Peter O’Leary roamed down field he reduced the arrears to three before Conor Meredith placed Micheál Finlay for a great point the margin was two with 18 minutes remaining.
Graiguecullen looked as if they were fading but once again the reliable Mark Timmons broke forward to kick his third point followed by another Jamie Parr strike.
O’Dempsey’s responded but the long serving Micheál Finlay saw his goal bound shot brilliantly denied by Danny Bolger, however Mark Barry whipped over a point from play.
O’Dempsey’s now piled on the pressure but two scoring chances went a begging at a time when they were dominating.
Danny Bolger is not just a shot stopper and he went down field to convert a free from 40 metres putting his side four points clear.
Matthew Finlay pulled one back a minute from time but Brian Byrne added his second for the Carlow border side to secure a great victory.
Padraig Clancy would have been pleased but not sure the draw pairing his side with the champions, who eliminated them in last year’s semi-final, was what he had in mind.
The league champions scored as many times as their conquerors but goals wins games and they need to be more clinical in front of goal, still they will relish a meeting with the losers of Arles Killeen or Emo.
GRAIGUECULLEN: Danny Bolger (0-2f); Bobby Doyle, Mark Timmons (0-3), Martin Doyle; Luke Alsybury (0-1), Jimmy Bolton, Trevor Collins; Shane O’Neill, Paul Mulready; Jamie Sheehan, Jamie Parr (0-2, 0-1f), Brian Byrne (0-2); Aaron Forbes (2-1), Ross Hennessey, Dean Malone.
Subs: Lee Timmons for Malone (53m), Tunde Ogunfowora for Hennessey (57m), Alan Coleman for Mulready (59m)
O’DEMPSEY’S: Padraig Bannon; Tommy Kehoe, Peter O’Leary (0-1), Eoin Cunningham; Robbie Kehoe, Shane Nerney, Cormac O’Hora; Dan McCormack, Barry Kelly; Mark Barry (0-3, 0-1f), Conor Meredith (0-1), Matthew Finlay (0-6, 0-3f); Liam Whelehan, Micheál Finlay (0-2), Eoin Finlay; Subs: Rory Bracken for Cunningham (h/t), Brian Nugent for E. Finlay (33m), Tom Kelly for Nugent (54m)
Referee: Eamon Strong (Emo)