Laois U-21 FC
O’Dempsey’s progress to the semi-final stage of Championship following a narrow one-point victory over Ballyroan Abbey in a thrilling finale in Ratheniska on Sunday morning.
Ballyroan Abbey Gaels opened the scoring with two minutes played when centre-forward, Eoghan Whelan, converted a free from the forty-five to give them the lead early on. O’Dempsey’s were back on level terms four minutes later when Matthew Finlay also pointed from a free.
An eleven minute scoreless period ensued before Finlay registered a point to the scoreboard, again from a placed ball to nudge O’Dempsey’s into the lead. Ballyroan Abbey looked to Jamie Coffey to level the game and he duly did so with a well-taken point, before a Whelan free and a point from centre-back, Conor Brennan, put them two ahead with eight minutes remaining in the opening half.
O’Dempsey’s rallied in the final minutes of the half and slotted three unanswered points to give them a one point lead at the interval. A brace from Finlay, one from play and one from a free, brought the sides back on level terms, before Shane Nerney snatched a point on the stroke of half-time to give his side a narrow lead on a scoreline of 0-5 to 0-4.
Upon the restart, Matthew Finlay helped himself to two points in the opening two minutes to push the O’Dempsey’s lead out to three points early on. Ballyroan Abbey waited ten minutes before closing the gap to two points compliments of Jake Cranny’s superb booming score from range to keep Ballyroan within striking range.
O’Dempsey’s dealt Ballyroan Abbey Gaels a crushing blow with forty-two minutes played when Matthew Finlay found a hole in the Ballyroan Abbey defence before sending a blistering strike into the roof of the net for the first, and only, goal of the game.
Ballyroan Abbey Gaels looked to stage a revival and did so through a a brace from Whelan, one from play and one from a placed ball, and a single point from Ciaran Carroll to bring them to within two points of the opposition.
An insurance point from Finlay that proved crucial at the final whistle gave O’Dempsey’s a three point cushion going into the final five minutes of the half. Ballyroan Abbey Gaels went in search of scores and lifted the white flag through Conor Brennan’s second of the day with three minutes to go, before Adam Brennan’s injury-time free brought them to within one point of O’Dempsey’s. However, the Ballyroan resurgence ran out of time as O’Dempsey’s held on.
Scorers: Matthew Finlay 1-7 (0-5 frees), Shane Nerney 0-1.
Team: Shane Hogan; Christopher Slevin, Liam Whelehan, Cormac O’Hora; Chris McCormack, Tommy Kehoe, Ben Molloy; Johnny Kelly, Shane Nerney; Pat Maher, Matthew Finlay, Darren Fitzpatrick; Daithi Howlin, Glenn Mitchell, Oisin Maher. Subs: Andrew Egan for Oisin Maher (58 mins); Aaron Fitzpatrick for Tommy Kehoe (BC, 62 mins).
BALLYROAN ABBEY GAELS
Scorers: Eoghan Whelan 0-4 (0-3 frees), Conor Brennan 0-2, Jamie Coffey, Jake Cranny, Adam Brennan (free) and Ciaran Carroll 0-1 each.
Team: Andrew Bonham; Cian Moffitt, Cillian McEvoy, Colin Kinsella; Enda Rowland, Conor Brennan, Daniel Molloy; Aaron Carroll, Liam Delaney; Jake Cranny, Eoghan Whelan, Ciaran Carroll; Jamie Coffey, Adam Brennan, Barry Walsh. Subs: Diarmuid Conway for Liam Delaney (half time).
Referee: Seamus O’Shea (Crettyard)