Laois Shopping Centre AFCL Division 1A Rd 9
By Gavin Cooper
O’DEMPSEY’S have moved two points clear at the top of Division 1A as they overcame an understrength Portlaoise team in a top of the table clash in Killenard on Friday.
Johnny Kelly got the scoring underway as he slotted over after receiving a pass from Peter O’Leary. Portlaoise’s first scoring chance came the way of Jack Dooley but he had a good goal chance saved by Padraig Bannon in the O’Dempsey’s goal.
Dooley was involved again as he once again had a goal effort saved by Bannon. Damon Larkin pointed the rebound off Dooley’s effort to get Portlaoise’s first point of the game.
Matthew Finlay pointed from a placed ball before Dooley had his third goal chance only for it to strike the crossbar. Ricky Maher raised the white flag as he pointed Dooley’s rebound. Matthew Finlay converted two more frees as neither team could take control of the game.
Jason Maher, a member on the Laois U/20 panel, pointed a free to leave one between the sides. Larkin was Portlaoise’s bright spark and his direct running was effective in creating scores as he created a point for Maher.
O’Dempsey’s had a gilt-edged opportunity to score a goal only for Micheál Finlay to put the ball wide. Portlaoise’s running with the ball was causing havoc for the home side’s defence and Ciaran McEvoy and Chris Finn scored two superb points for the away side. Jason Maher scored his second and third free of the game as Portlaoise were now ahead by four.
O’Dempsey’s ended the first half well as Matthew Finlay pointed a free before Eoin Finlay scored a goal and a point to leave O’Dempsey’s ahead by one at the break.
Larkin was once again involved as he assisted a Ross Brennan point on the restart. Matthew Finlay was immaculate in placed ball situations as pointed another free. Micheál Finlay also raised the white flag as O’Dempsey’s began to pull away from their opponents.
Matthew Finlay scored another two points, one from a free and one from play. O’Dempsey’s next score killed the game off when Eoin Finlay dispatched the ball beyond Michael Nolan to score his second goal of the game.
Larkin was Portlaoise’s main scoring threat and he landed a superb point. Micheál Finlay pointed as O’Dempsey’s were defending well and not allowing Portlaoise any scoring chances.
The Town did score four unanswered points but the game was out of their range by this stage. Three of the points coming from Jason Maher frees while Brennan got his second point of the game.
Portlaoise ended the game with 14 men as Ricky Maher received his marching orders for two yellow card offences.
Matthew Finlay ended the scoring with a point which he fisted over the black spot.
O’DEMPSEY’S: Padraig Bannon; Tommy Kehoe, Keith Kavanagh, Cormac O’Hora; Ciaran McManus, Robbie Kehoe, Brian Meredith; Conor Meredith, Barry Kelly; Johnny Kelly (0-1), Micheál Finlay (0-2), Peter O’Leary; Pat Maher, Eoin Finlay (2-1), Matthew Finlay (0-8; 0-7fs)
Subs: Tom Behan for Maher (h/t), Liam Whelan for Kelly (40m), Eoin Cunningham for Kehoe (51m)
PORTLAOISE: Michael Nolan; David Holland, Brian McCormack, Michael Dowling; Chris Finn (0-1), Paul Cotter, Colin Finn; Ciaran McEvoy (0-1), Craig Scully; Aaron Rafter, Damon Larkin (0-2), Ross Brennan (0-2); Ricky Maher (0-2), Jack Dooley, Jason Maher (0-6fs)
Sub: Jack Brown for Dooley (20m, inj)
Referee: Michael Tarpey (Kilcavan)