Emo and O'Dempsey's have been familiar foes in recent years, as the neighbours met for the third time in four years tonight.
O'Dempsey's defeated them in the 2018 quarter-final en-route to a county final loss to Portlaoise. Emo got the better of them in the opening round of the 2020 championship though and went on to dethrone Portlaoise before losing to Graiguecullen in the semi's.
O'Dempsey's were operating on another level this evening in O'Moore Park, with Mark Barry and Matthew Finlay proving too hot to handle for the Emo backs on the night.
The first five minutes of this opening round affair in O'Moore Park was end to end, with Matthew Finlay firing over twice for O'Dempsey's, while Paddy Hosey grabbed two quick-fire points for the Emo men.
Mark Barry knocked his second score from play after a strong run that took hik past a few Emo defenders. Johnny Kelly doubled O'Dempsey's advantage after a strong counter-attacking move where Barry Kelly got through a lot of work.
Paul Lawlor left one between them from a free, before Nigel Murphy levelled it again after he fired over from close-range. O'Dempsey's finished the first quarter strongly though, with Matthew Finlay firing over another point before the opening goal of the game.
O'Dempsey's full-back Cormac O'Hora played a lovely ball to Matthew Finlay, who spotted the run of Shane Nerney towards the goals, and played an inch-perfect handpass for Nerney to tap to the net.
O'Dempsey's continued to build momentum after the water break, with Daithi Howlin and Matthew Finlay slotting over fine scores from play. Paul Lawlor placed over a free for Emo in response, but O'Dempsey's replied through midfielder Derek Dunne, who split the posts after a lovely ball from play Mark Barry.
Emo kept themselves in touch approaching half-time, with Paul Lawlor and Paddy Hosey putting over scores for them. O'Dempsey's got the last two scores of the half though, with the best player on the field, Mark Barry, swinging over two more beauty's. They led 1-10 to 0-8.
Lawlor pointed a placed ball to begin proceedings in the second half, before Barry hit back for O'Dempsey's with another point from play. Emo had brought the gap back to four points straight after, as Padraig Kirwan played a nice ball to Hosey inside, who took the mark and slotted over.
O'Dempsey's were undeterred though, as they kicked the next three scores. Jack Lennon, Daithi Howlin and Barry (free) points meant they remained in charge, but during this time their full-back Cormac O'Hora did receive a black card for taking out Sean Greene on the run.
Lawlor and Hosey cut back into the deficit again, but an O'Dempsey's goal before the second water break put the game to bed. Another swift counter-attacking move, this time involving Peter O'Leary and Robbie Kehoe, resulted in Barry firing to the roof of the net.
O'Dempsey's controlled the rest of the game, as Emo heads dropped. Fionn Holland scored a point on the run, while Matthew Finlay and Mark Barry added to their respective tally's.
Scorers: Mark Barry 1-6 (0-1 free), Matthew Finlay 0-6 (0-2 frees), Shane Nerney 1-0, Daithi Howlin 0-2, Johnny Kelly, Jack Lennon, Fionn Holland and Derek Dunne 0-1 each
Team: Padraig Bannon; Stephen Lennon, Cormac O'Hora, Peter O'Leary; Robbie Kehoe, Barry Kelly, Stephen Lennon; Derek Dunne, Johnny Kelly; Shane Murphy, Matthew Finlay, Mark Barry; Ben Coen, Daithi Howlin, Jack Lennon. Subs: Liam Whelehan for Dunne (39 mins), Brian Nugent for J Lennon (39 mins), Tommy Kehoe for O'Leary (57 mins)
Scorers: Paul Lawlor 0-7 frees, Paddy Hosey 0-6 (0-2 frees, 0-1 mark), Nigel Murphy 0-1
Team: Niall Gorman; Tommy Keegan, James O'Rourke, Tommy Fennelly; Padraig Kirwan, Shane Murphy, Liam Crowley; Sean Greene, Darren Strong; Nigel Murphy, Stephen Norton, David Gorman; Paul Lawlor, Jack Owens, Paddy Hosey. Subs: Cian Langford for Owens (HT), Brian Gorman for Keegan (HT), Eibhan Joyce for Fennelly (47 mins, inj)
REFEREE: John Flynn (The Rock)
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