Action from the Laois SFC Round 2 clash between Graiguecullen and O'Dempsey's at O'Moore Park. Photo: Denis Byrne
These two teams met twice in last year’s Senior championship, with Graiguecullen grinding out the win the first day, but O’Dempsey’s gaining revenge in the semi-finals. This meeting wasn’t anywhere near as entertaining as their previous encounters, but O’Dempsey’s did come out on top once again thanks to strong second-half display.
O'Dempsey's 0 - 13
Graiguecullen 0 - 10
Laois Shopping Centre Senior Football Championship Round 2
From the referee Des Cooney’s throw-in, Graiguecullen’s Ross Alcock, who played no football last year for his side, fired over the opening score.
Jamie Parr then had Graiguecullen two to the good, but O’Dempsey’s looked like getting into the contest when Johnny Kelly burst in at speed into the square, and Chris Hurley’s attempted shoulder was just timed a little late.
Conor Meredith was tasked with bursting the net, but his penalty was just wide of the posts and Graiguecullen breathed a sigh of relief. Aaron Forbes was then all alone in the square down the other end, but he decided to palm over when he had more time than he might have thought.
O’Dempsey’s did get going though, with Mark Barry putting them on the scoreboard, and Matthew Finlay floating over a 45’ shortly after. Matthew Finlay, who was the top scorer last season in the Senior championship, got O’Dempsey’s on level terms from play this time.
Graiguecullen responded well, with Jamie Parr placing over two more frees to put them back in the ascendancy. Matthew Finlay fired over another for O’Dempsey’s from a free of his own, but Graiguecullen restored the cushion after Danny Bolger’s 45’ fell into the arms of Ross Alcock, and he turned around before booting over.
O’Dempsey’s had a few missed chances before the end of half-time, with Mark Barry going through on goals, only to be blocked last second by his marker Trevor Collins.
Corner-back Martin Doyle delivered the last score of the half in Graiguecullen’s favour, as they went in with a slightly surprising 0-7 to 0-4 advantage.
From the throw-in at the start of the second-half, Graiguecullen patiently worked a score, playing the ball from side to side, with Ross Hennessy eventually placing the ball over.
O’Dempsey’s had a goal opportunity with their first attack of the second-half, as Peter O’Leary played it to Matthew Finlay but his fisted attempt was palmed away by Graiguecullen goalkeeper Daniel Bolger.
Graiguecullen full-forward Aaron Forbes is more known for his danger in the full-forward line, but it was his work ethic that helped Graiguecullen get the back. Forbes, after earning possession, surged all the way into the O’Dempsey’s 45’, and Rory Bracken had no choice but to stop him. Daniel Bolger bolted up to fire the resulting free between the sticks.
O’Dempsey’s did get up and running for the second-half through Michael Finlay, who turned and kicked over, and then Peter O’Leary swung over a lovely point to get O’Dempsey’s within two.
We had to wait another ten minutes until our next score, but it did go O’Dempsey’s way. Intricate handpassing resulted in Matthew Finlay firing over off his weaker left, and soon after the same man levelled it with a score off his right.
Boosted by this, Barry Kelly then booted O’Dempsey’s two clear with five minutes of normal time remaining.
Shane Nerney and Matthew Finlay (free) points meant O’Dempsey’s advanced to a quarter-finals, but they will need to improve if they are to challenge Portlaoise for the Jack Delaney Cup.
*See Tuesday's Leinster Express Sport for full coverage
Scorers: Matthew Finlay (0-2 frees, 0-1 45’) 0-6, Mark Barry 0-2, Shane Nerney, Peter O’Leary, Barry Kelly and Michael Finlay 0-1 each.
Team: Padraig Bannon; Cormac O’Hora, Shane Nerney, Keith Kavanagh; Bryan Meredith, Robbie Kehoe, Conor Meredith; Barry Kelly, Rory Bracken; Peter O’Leary, Mark Barry, Johnny Kelly; Matthew Finlay, Daniel McCormack, Micheal Finlay. Subs: Tommy Kehoe for Kavanagh (HT), Barry Howlin for R Kehoe (60 mins).
Scorers: Jamie Parr 0-3 frees, Ross Alcock 0-2, Danny Bolger (free), Martin Doyle, Ross Hennessy, Mark Timmons and Aaron Forbes 0-1 each.
Team: Daniel Bolger; Chris Hurley, Mark Timmons, Martin Doyle; Luke Alsybury, Trevor Collins, Danny Alsybury; Shane O’Neill, Michael Hand; Ross Alcock, Jamie Sheehan, Jamie Parr; Ross Hennessy, Aaron Forbes, Ian Fleming. Subs: James Doogue for Hand (34 mins), Danny Doogue for Alcock (54 mins, inj), Dale Byrne for Forbes (64 mins, inj).
REFEREE: Des Cooney (St Joseph’s)