Stephen O'Leary on the attack for O'Dempsey's. Pic: Denis Byrne.
Portaoise and O’Dempsey’s could only garner a point apiece last Friday night as they tried to close the gap on St Joseph's at the top of ACFL Division 1A.
O’Dempsey’s will perhaps be the more pleased of the two sides with the result, as they remain in second, whilst Portlaoise also stay put in third, a point behind.
The in-form Scott Lawless began proceedings in Rathleague with a nice point from play. O’Dempsey’s replied with their first score, a point from play from the boot of Matthew Finlay.
Corner forward Brian McCormack edged Portlaoise back in front, before Paul Cahillane, returning to the side after playing a substantial part in winning the LSL Division 1B league with Portlaoise AFC, nabbed the opening goal of the game. A sloppy ball from Barry Kelly out of defence resulted in John Kavanagh playing the ball into the path of Cahillane, and the result was never in doubt.
O’Dempsey’s replied with a Darren Fitzpatrick point, after Brian Nugent's shot was saved by Portlaoise goalkeeper Richie Downey. Points from Conor Meredith and Stephen O’Leary then reduced the gap to one. The sides then traded scores through two Scott Lawless frees, with Brian Nugent and Matthew Finlay scoring for O’Dempsey’s.
O’Dempsey’s took the lead for the first time in the match, with Darren Fitzpatrick, Brian Nugent and half-time substitute Johnny Kelly giving the away team a two point advantage. Portlaoise restored their half-time advantage thanks to three unanswered scores of their own. Cahillane, Lawless and first half substitute Rickie Maher the scorers on this occasion.
O’Dempsey’s equalised through a Nugent free, but Cahillane went down the other end to restore the town’s lead. Centre forward Nugent then put over a magnificent score from a ways out to equalise again, and that would be the final score in this one, with both teams failing to take their chances in the last five minutes.
Scorers: Paul Cahillane 1-2, Scott Lawless 0-4(0-2f), Bruno McCormack and Rickie Maher 0-1 each.
Team: Richie Downey; David Holland, David Seale, Ronan Molloy; Chris Finn, Brian Mulligan, Jack Brown; Dean Cullen, Benny Carroll; Paddy Downey, John Kavanagh, Conor Dunphy; Paul Cahillane, Scott Lawless, Brian McCormack. Subs: Rickie Maher for McCormack (16 mins), Adrian Kelly for Kavanagh (half time), Craig Rogers for Cahillane (48 mins), Kevin Fitzpatrick for Cullen (55 mins).
Scorers: Brian Nugent 0-4 (0-2 frees), Matthew Finlay and Darren Fitzpatrick 0-2 each, Johnny Kelly, Stephen O’Leary and Conor Meredith 0-1 each.
Team: Padraig Bannon; Thomas Kehoe, Peter O’Leary, Cormac O’Hora; Robbie Kehoe, Barry Kelly, Richard Whelehan; Conor Meredith, Shane Nerney; Michael Finlay, Brian Nugent, Matthew Finlay; Stephen O’Leary, Eoin Finlay, Darren Fitzpatrick. Subs: Johnny Kelly for Kelly (half-time), Sean McMahon for S O’Leary (52 mins), Bobby Sweeney for E Finlay (57 mins).
Referee: Brendan McCann (Portarlington)