O'Dempsey's Conor Meredith under pressure from Arles-Killeen's Sean O'Shea Pic: Alf Harvey
Division 1A league winners O’Dempsey’s brushed off their first round defeat to Graiguecullen and fired in four goals past Arles-Killeen to advance to round three. Arles-Killeen are now in relegation trouble, as their years of being Portlaoise’s biggest challengers look well behind them.
O'Dempsey's 4-14 Arles-Killeen 0-12
Arles-Killeen made a good start to this one as wing forward Dermot Julian found the target in the first minute, but O’Dempsey’s hit back with 2-3 to put the game firmly in their grasp.
Robbie Kehoe was taken down by Joe Mulhare in the square, and Eamon Strong spread his arms to award a penalty. The ever reliable Conor Meredith stepped up, and found the bottom right corner. The penalty goal gave O’Dempsey’s the confidence boost they needed, as they began to play some nice football.
Eoin Finlay fisted over from close range, before his brother Michael raised another white flag, but if he had chosen to aim a little lower it could have been a green one. Matthew Finlay, who was orchestrating a lot of what was good about O’Dempsey’s forward play, then got on the score sheet himself.
A sloppy kick-out from Arles-Killeen allowed Liam Whelehan to gain possession around the ’45. He gave it to Barry Kelly, who slid in Michael Finlay, and he struck low for O’Dempsey’s second goal of the night.
Arles-Killeen began to come back in it, with points from Jason Enright, Donie Kingston (free) and Dermot Julian. However, they were hit with another hammer blow, as Eoin Finlay palmed home O’Dempsey’s third goal.
Jason Enright slotted over a free for Arles-Killeen, but O’Dempsey’s nearly scored a fourth goal, with the crossbar denying Mark Barry. Matthew Finlay and Barry Kelly exchanged points with Donie Kingston before the break, as O’Dempsey’s led 3-5 to 0-8.
O’Dempsey’s weren’t letting up after the break either, as they scored 1-2 without reply, and there looked to be no way back for Arles-Killeen.
Points from the boots of Liam Whelehan and Matthew Finlay were followed with Eoin Finlay’s second goal. Matthew Finlay’s shot dropped well short, but Eoin Finlay judged the bounce to perfection, punching in O’Dempsey’s fourth.
Paul Kingston, who was kept quiet for the most part, found the target from open play for Arles-Killeen. Mark Barry replied for O’Dempsey’s, but Donie Brennan rolled back the years with a point of his own.
Arles-Killeen looked to be given a small lifeline when they saw they influential Conor Meredith receive his second yellow in a matter of seconds after he received his first, but they failed to take advantage. Paul Kingston pointed from a placed ball, but they’d only manage a singular point in the fifteen minutes remaining.
They didn’t do themselves any favours though, as after Matthew Finlay put over a free for O’Dempsey’s, Paul Kingston joined Conor Meredith in the stands, as referee Eamon Strong gave him a straight red for what looked to be a punch thrown.
O’Dempsey’s took control with Mark Barry (free) and Matthew Finlay (’45) proving their accuracy from placed balls, before Michael Finlay got one from play. Sean O’Shea scored Arles-Killeen’s last score, with O’Dempsey’s tagging on a further two points before the final whistle. Mark Barry and Barry Kelly found the target on this occasion, as O’Dempsey’s got back on track in this year’s championship.
Scorers: Eoin Finlay 2-1, Michael Finlay 1-2, Matthew Finlay 0-5 (0-1 free, 0-1 ’45), Mark Barry 0-3 (0-1 free), Conor Meredith 1-0, Barry Kelly 0-2, Liam Whelehan 0-1
Team: Padraig Bannon; Tommy Kehoe, Shane Nerney, Peter O’Leary; Barry Kelly, Robbie Kehoe, Cormac O’Hora; Rory Bracken, Conor Meredith; Liam Whelehan, Michael Finlay, Matthew Finlay; Mark Barry, Daniel McCormack, Eoin Finlay. Subs: Tom Kelly for McCormack (40 mins, injured), Eoin Cunningham for Whelehan (61 mins), Bryan Meredith for M Finlay (61 mins)
Scorers: Donie Kingston 0-4 (0-3 frees), Paul Kingston (0-1 free), Jason Enright (0-1 free) and Dermot Julian 0-2 each, Donie Brennan and Sean O’Shea 0-1 each
Team: Michael Leigh; Niall O’Rourke, Joe Mulhare, James Mahon; Brian Kennedy, John Mahon, Brendan O’Shea; Donie Kingston, Shane Julian; Dermot Julian, Jason Enright, Conor Keightley; Sean O’Shea, Paul Kingston, Donie Brennan. Sub: Evan McDonald for O’Rourke (half-time)
Referee: Eamon Strong (Emo)
Both the Kingston’s were kept very quiet by Shane Nerney and Peter O’Leary, who solidified the full back line. Tommy Kehoe also did well back there, but we’ll give Nerney the nod this week.
The early period in the first half where O’Dempsey’s scored 2-3 without reply left a fairly defensively organised Arles-Killeen with too much to change.
Eamon Strong had a good day at the office here, with his issuing of red cards to Conor Meredith and Paul Kingston fair.
Arles-Killeen are no longer one of the big teams in the senior championship anymore, and they’ll do well to hold on to their status this year. With very little underage work being done, there’s a huge question mark over their future.
O’Dempsey’s showed great composure in front of goals, unlike the last time against Graiguecullen. The pick of the goals was Michael Finlay’s well worked effort.