GAA - Dan's the man for O'Dempsey's as they secure opening football league win over Ballylinan

Rory Delaney

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Rory Delaney

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rory@leinsterexpress.ie

GAA - Dan's the man for O'Dempsey's as they secure opening football league win over Ballylinan

Stephen O'Leary scored 0-4 for O'Dempsey's against Ballylinan.

A stunning haul of four goals from O'Dempsey's full-forward Dan McCormack saw the Killenard side made a strong start to ACFL Division 1 on Sunday.

O'Dempsey's 6-12

Ballylinan 1-9

The reigning league champion were too strong for last year's beaten SFC finalists Ballylinan, although three goals in two minutes later in the game gave the scoreline a rather unflattering reflection for the hosts.

O'Dempsey's had started well though, and were well in control at half time. They were worthy winners on the day obviously enough, but both themselves and Ballylinan were vastly under strength.

Stephen O'Leary had gotten O'Dempsey's off to a bright start with a point in the first minute, but almost ten minutes would elapse before another score was registered. When it arrived, it was that man McCormack in the middle of things, as he set up the opening goal.

Conor Meredith launched a high ball into the teenager, and he deftly tapped it into the path of Brian Nugent, who applied the finish.

That score finally jolted Ballylinan into gear, and Seamus Lacey won the resulting kick out before feeding Liam Kealy, and he made no mistake with a nice point from 25 yards out.

O'Dempsey's hit back with interest however, as Nugent pointed a free before McCormack got his first goal, as he flicked a high ball into the square past Darren Burke. Brian McEvoy replied with a free for Balllylinan, and then Jamie Farrell, on as an early sub after not making it onto the field in Dr Cullen Park, kicked another for the home side.

That set the tone for what was an evenly contested period of the game, as Ballylinan finally found their feet. Liam Kealy kicked another and Andy McEvoy added a free, while at the other end, Stephen O'Leary and Barry Kelly also hit the target for Ballylinan. 

By the time Darren Bracken blew for half time, O'Dempsey's lead 2-6 to 0-7, but Ballylinan had done enough to suggest they could close the gap when play resumed.

Stephen O'Leary (free) and Liam Kealy exchanged points on the restart, but O'Dempsey's soon delivered another hammer blow to Ballylinan. Brian Nugent lofted a high ball towards goal, and McCormack was on hand once again to flick it past Darren Burke.

Nugent added a free and it looked like O'Dempsey's were going to canter home now, but Ballylinan responded admirably. They worked the ball down the field, and Jamie Farrell picked out Gary Walsh, his club and county mate's name sake, and the veteran defender scored a cracking goal from the edge of the area.

That should have set Ballylinan up for a right tilt at O'Dempsey's now, as they were just six behind and had plenty of time to eat into that lead. However, credit must go to O'Dempsey's for the manner in which they finished out the game.

Conor Meredith, Brian Nugent and Stephen O'Leary all picked off points to take the sting out of the game, and then the hit a flurry of goals.

McCormack got the first, as he jinked around his makrer and then hammered an unstoppable shot to the net. Mark Barry was then found in space 20 yards out, and he bore down on goal before placing a nice shot into the bottom corner, before McCormack nabbed his fourth with a soccer-style finish from close range.

There was no way back for Ballylinan now, and another point for each side rounded off the scoring for the day, as O'Dempsey's opened their league campaign in ideal fashion.

O'DEMPSEY'S 

Scorers: Dan McCormack 4-0, Brian Nugent 1-4 (0-3 frees), Stephen O'Leary 0-4 (0-1 free), Mark Barry 1-1, Eoin Finlay, Barry Kelly, Conor Meredith 0-1 each.

Team: Podge Bannon; Richard Whelehan, Peter O'Leary, Liam Whelehan; Robbie Kehoe, Tommy Kehoe, Cormac O'Hora; Eoin Finlay, Barry Kelly; Mark Barry, Conor Meredith, Pat Maher; Stephen O'Leary, Dan McCormack, Brian Nugent. Subs: Míchael Finlay for Maher (half time), Matthew Finlay for E Finlay (39 mins), Rory Bracken for L Whelehan (44 mins), Aaron Fitzpatrick for S O'Leary (56 mins), Eugene Nolan for McCormack (57 mins).

BALLYLINAN

Scorers: Liam Kealy 0-3, Gary Walsh 1-0, Jamie Farrell 0-2, Seamus Lacey, Andy McEvoy (free), Brian McEvoy (free), David Bride 0-1 each.

Team: Darren Burke; Kevin Byrne, Dermot Leonard, James Murphy; Robbie Donoher, Conor Behan, Evan Phillips; Cathal Fennessy, Liam Kealy, James Redmond; Andy McEvoy, Brian McEvoy, David Bride. Subs: Jamie Farrell for Phillips (17 mins), Gary Walsh for Redmond (20 mins), Evan Phillips for B McEvoy (half time), Tomás Lacey for Phillips (51 mins).

Referee: Darren Bracken (Portarlington).