ALL COUNTY SENIOR FOOTBALL LEAGUE
O'Dempsey's picked up a deserved brace of points on Saturday evening after they left Rathleague with a two point win over a Portlaoise side who were unable to back up their opening round win over Portarlington two weeks previous.
With pace on the wings and strong spine, the O'Dempsey's men made hay in the first half in particular with Matthew Finlay pulling the strings at full forward.
With both teams without the services of their county players, the Killenard outfit had more in reserve and the individual display from Finlay set the teams apart.
O'Dempsey's played with the breeze in the opening half and the direct ball into the full forward line proved too hot for Portlaoise to handle.
They got the dream start when Samuel Molloy found the net after just 20 seconds. Jack Lennon lorded in a long ball from the throw in and Molloy rose highest to get a touch and send it to the net.
While looking more dangerous generally, O'Dempsey's weren't pulling away. Two points from Finlay were cancelled out by Ricky Maher and Paul Cahillane.
They hadn't long to wait for their second goal and again it came from a long ball inside. Matthew Finlay found himself in space and coolly dispatched to the net.
The aforementioned Finlay and Michael Culliton exchanged scores but at the first water break, it was the two green flags that separated the sides.
Straight after the restart, they had their third goal with corner back Stephen Lennon advancing up the field, taking a pass on the run and finding the net.
Portlaoise responded with three points from Maher, Cahillane and Josh Hogan to cancel out one of the goals but two points from Samuel Molloy gave O'Dempsey's an eight point lead with only two minutes left to the break.
There was time for another goal before half time, this time for the Portlaoise men and it gave them a lifeline. Unfortunately for O'Dempsey's substitute Eoin Fitzpatrick, it was a deflection of him that saw the ball cross the line as the teams went in at the break with O'Dempsey's leading 3-5 to 1-6.
Portlaoise started the second half brightly with David Seale knocking over a point but they were knocked back once again with a fourth O'Dempsey's goal. Finlay was involved again as he rose highest to feed the on-rushing Brian Nugent who finished well to the net.
Portlaoise chipped away at the lead with Paul Cahillane to the fore while Ricky Maher added another to his tally. Substitute John Scully drove through the centre to fire home a goal and now suddenly, the gap was down to three points.
Portlaoise continued to pile on the pressure going in search of that goal but the best they could manage was a 64th minute point from Cahillane.
Scorers: Matthew Finlay 1-4 (0-2fs), Samuel Molloy 1-2, Stephen Lennon and Brian Nugent 1-0 each, Jack Lennon 0-1
Team: Padraig Bannon; Stephen Lennon, Thomas Kelly, Patrick McCormack; Robbie Kehoe, Thomas Kehoe, Shane Nerney; Bryan Meredith, Brian Nugent; Liam Whelehan, John Kelly, Jack Lennon; Ben Coen, Matthew Finlay, Samuel Molloy.
Subs: Eoin Fitzpatrick for R Kehoe (13m, inj), Eoin Finlay for Coen (53m).
Scorers: Paul Cahillane 0-5 (0-3rs), Ricky Maher 0-3 (0-1f, 0-1m), Michael Culliton, Josh Hogan and David Seale 0-1 each
Team: Michael O'Connell; Ben Dempsey, Ben Reddin, Chris Finn; Dylan Feane, David Seale, Conor Boyle; Paddy Downey, Josh Hogan; DJ White, Paul Cahillane, Michael Culliton; Ricky Maher, Gary Saunders, David Holland.
Subs: Jason Maher for Reddin (h/t), Kevin Swayne for Feane (h/t), John Kavanagh for White (h/t), Ben Brennan for Culliton (41m), Sam Burrane for Dempsey (41m)
Referee: Clifford Ward (Portarlington)
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