As the light faded following a half hour delay due to the lack of a referee, Graiguecullen huffed and puffed but it was too late to get back into this one. The scoreline suggests that they were well beaten but the only real difference was a more clinical O’Dempseys attack in front of goal, and their three second half goals were more than enough to clinch the win in what was otherwise a closely contested affair on Sunday evening in Killenard.
The Carlow-border men were two points to the good at the break and looked to be on course for their first win following their opening round draw against Emo. After a delayed start until Niall McCormack was called in to officiate, it was nip and tuck stuff until four minutes before the break when points from rising stars Daryl Hayden and Danny Aylesbury went unanswered and the hosts trudged off facing into a two point deficit. O’Dempseys had started a little brighter and picked off a series of very nice scores through the likes of Ed Kelly and Brian Nugent but Graigue kept in touch thanks to the free-taking abilities of Ian Fleming and Dale Byrne before taking the lead late in the half.
After a slow start to the second half, Graigue hit the first score of the second half to go three ahead. Daryl Hayden swung his trusty left boot to launch his second score of the night but the visitors would go on to score only one more point as O’Dempseys cut through their defence with some crisp football to carve out those crucial goals. The first came ten minutes after the restart when Peter O’Leary, Barry Kelly and Brian Meredith were all involved in an attack down the right wing. It eventually fell to Stephen O’Leary who punched onto the crossbar and down onto the goalline. He was convinced it had crossed the line but the umpires waved it away, and so when he retrieved the ball again thirty seconds later he made sure there was no doubt by smashing a low drive into the back of Pat Scully’s net to pull the sides level.
Scully was picking the ball out of his net again five minutes later and again it came from a quick break down the right wing. Peter O’Leary was heavily involved as was half-time substitute Brian Behan and he found Micheal Finlay in space. Finlay calmly rounded the Graigue keeper at pace and slotted home with style to add to the goal he claimed against Portlaoise in their opening round defeat last weekend.
Graigucullen were stunned into inaction, and before they could regroup O’Dempseys got their third goal in a blistering nine minute spell. Peter O’Leary sent in a fine ball from the left wing and although Paddy Scully denied Brian Nugent with a terrific save from the midfielder’s initial effort, Nugent was on hand to rise highest to the dropping rebound and punch home to put O’Dempseys six points in front with just over ten minutes on the clock.
There was little chance of a comeback at that stage, and even less so when Michael Finlay’s free edged O’Dempseys even further ahead five minutes later. Graiguecullen did manage to end their twenty minute scoring drought late on through a Dale Byrne close-range free but that was all they could manage and Stephen O’Leary brought the curtain down on this clash with a well taken score three minutes from time. Both sides will be looking for improvements over the next few weeks but O’Dempseys will certainly be a lot happier than Graiguecullen after this performance.
SCORERS - O’Dempsey’s: Brian Nugent (0-1 free) and Stephen O’Leary 1-2 each, Michael Finlay 1-1 (0-1 free), Conor Meredith, Ed Kelly and Brian Meredith 0-1 each; Graiguecullen: Dale Byrne 0-3 (two frees), Ian Fleming (both frees), Ambrose Doran and Daryl Hayden 0-2 each, Brian McGuire 0-1.
O’DEMPSEY’S: Padraig Bannon; Tomas Finlay, JP Kehoe, Conor Kavanagh; Barry Kelly, Robbie Keogh, Peter O’Leary; Darren Finlay, Brian Nugent; Conor Meredith, Stephen O’Leary, Liam Finlay; Michael Finlay, Ed Kelly, Brian Meredith. Subs: Brian Behan for C Meredith (30 mins), Liam Finlay for D Finlay (46 mins), Ciaran Haberlin for Nugent (55 mins)
GRAIGUECULLEN: Pat Scully; Stephen Alsybury, Paddy Hurley, Liam Byrne; Chris Hurley, Jimmy Bolton, Ian Fleming; Brian McGuire, James Doogue; Brian McDermott, Ambrose Doran, Danny Alsybury; Dale Byrne, Darryl Hayden, Rory Hurley. Subs: Luke Alsybury for McGuire (41 mins), Jamie Parr for D Alsybury (53 mins), Jason McGrath for P Hurley (53 mins)
Referee: Niall McCormack