By Denis J. Croke
There were no shocks as the senior football championship got up and running once again tonight – three games played and all won by the favourites.
A clinical display from O’Dempsey’s saw them claim a well-deserved 12 point win over Courtwood in O’Moore Park tonight.
Micheál Finlay landed a hat-trick, with Matthew Finlay (2), Mark Barry and Dan McCormack also raising green flags to secure a comprehensive victory for the Killenard men. Dan Luttrell tried to keep Courtwood in the game, but it was to no avail as O’Dempsey’s were just too strong on the night.
O’Dempsey’s: Micheál Finlay 3-1, Matthew Finlay 2-3 (0-3fs), Mark Barry 1-1, Dan McCormack 1-0, Conor Meredith, Barry Kelly 0-2 each, Brian Nugent 0-1.
Courtwood: Danny Luttrell 0-8 (0-5fs, 0-2 ‘45s), Alan Kinsella 0-3 (0-1f), Paul O’Flynn 1-0, Luke Doran 0-2, Luke Doyle 0-2, Sean O’Flynn 0-1
O’DEMPSEY’S: Podge Bannon; Tom Kelly, Shane Nerney, Fionn Holland; Robbie Kehoe, Bryan Meredith, Johnny Kelly; Barry Kelly, Barry Howlin; Brian Nugent, Matthew Finlay, Conor Meredith; Dan McCormack, Micheál Finlay, Mark Barry.
Subs: Robbie McNeil for Nugent (50m), Tom Behan for B Kelly (50m)
COURTWOOD: Matthew Byron; Mark O’Halloran, Andrew Flynn, Nathan Little; Colm Wilson, Rob Flynn, Seth Mooney; Sean O’Flynn, Danny Luttrell; Paul O’Flynn, Luke Doyle, Alan Kinsella; Luke Doran, Cian Doyle, Conor Hogan.
Subs: Mick Doyle for C Wilson (ht), Dave Duffy for Hogan (41m), Paddy Wilson for C Doyle (45m)
Referee: Mick Tarpey (Kilcavan)
Meanwhile, an impressive display from Sean Moore, who scored 1-7, inspired Ballyfin to a narrow victory over Ballyfin winning on a 3-10 to 2-12 scoreline.
The winners were slow to get going in Portarlington but eventually got their act together and come out on top in what was quite an entertaining game.
Newly promoted Rosenallis controlled the first half and approaching half time were leading 2-5 to 0-5. Ballyfin hit back with a goal and a point and at the break the minimum separated the sides, 2-5 to 1-7.
Another goal on the restart had Ballyfin in front and they were never to be headed again.
Ballyfin: Sean Moore 1-7 (1-0pen, 0-4fs), Louis Duff 1-0, Jack Priestley 1-0, James Finn 0-2 (one free), Allan Connolly 0-1.
Rosenallis: Ronan Murray 1-5 (0-5fs), Eoin Dunne 1-1, Colm Poole 0-4 (0-2fs), Brian Fitzpatrick 0-1, Donal Lalor 0-1 (f)
BALLYFIN: Robbie Foran; Jack Cleary, David Connolly, Allan Connolly; Will Reilly, Ciaran Fingleton, Darragh Connolly; James Finn, Max Connolly; Nick Cosgrave, James Moore, Dan Molloy; Sean Moore, Louis Duff, Jack Priestley.
Subs: George Lanham for Cleary (35m), Eamon Duff for Molloy (45m)
ROSENALLIS: Donal Maher; John Maher, Ruaidhrí C Fennell, Adam McDermott; Marcus Redmond, Cathal C Fennell, Fiachra C Fennell; Eoin Dunne, John O’Loughlin; Paddy Keating, Ronan Murray, Colm Poole; Cillian Callally, Donagh Callally, Joey Shelley.
Subs: Brian Fitzpatrick for Keating (40m), Jack Friel for McDermott (40m)
Referee: Des Cooney (St Joseph’s)
Over in Stradbally Portlaoise repeated last year’s opening round defeat of Ballylinan but not as emphatically as 12 months ago.
Six points separated the sides at the full time whistle, 1-8 to 0-5, but new Ballylinan manager Mick Lillis will have been happy enough with his side’s performance.
Portlaoise, also under new management with Kevin Fitzpatrick at the helm, were being put under pressure for long periods and it was not until the final quarter hat they finally began to pull away.
A Damon Larkin goal separated the sides at half time and by full time that gap had been doubled with two late Ricky Maher frees taking the pressure off the Town.
Portlaoise: Damon Larkin 1-0, Ricky Maher 0-3 (fs), John Kavanagh 0-2 (fs), Kieran Lillis, Gareth Dillon and Jason Maher (ff) 0-1 each
Ballylinan: Gary Walsh 0-5 (0-4fs)
PORTLAOISE: Graham Brody; Chris Finn, Frank Flanagan, Cahir Healy; Gareth Dillon, Gary Saunders, David Seale; Ciaran McEvoy, Kieran Lillis; David Holland, John Kavanagh, Damon Larkin; Paul Cahillane, Jason Maher, Ricky Maher.
Subs: Brian Smith for Cahillane (10m, inj), Paddy Downey for Seale (ht)
BALLYLINAN: Pádraig Walsh; Cathal Leonard, Robbie Donoher, Kevin Byrne; Alan Farrell, Seamus Lacey, Oisin Leonard; Jamie Farrell, Pádraig McEvoy; Cathal Fennessy, Ciaran Farrell, Larry Kealy; Ciaran Fennessy, Cathail Dunne, Gary Walsh.
Subs: Andy McEvoy for Leonard (15m), Liam Kealy for Cathal Fennessy (36m), John Kealy for Larry Kealy (40m) Luke Philips for Dunne (50m)
Referee: Clifford Ward (Portarlington)
Full reports and photographs from all games in next week’s Laois Nationalist