The Heath 0-13 O’Dempsey’s 1-12
ACFL Division 1A
A first half goal from Eoin Finlay proved decisive as O’Dempsey’s completed a league double over The Heath in miserable conditions tonight.
Peter Brady’s side have taken a giant step towards the league final with this win as they are now five points clear of Portlaoise with just three games to play – albeit The Town have one extra.
The Heath may feel a bit hard done by to be on the end of a two point defeat but the truth is that O’Dempsey’s kicked a large number of wides while both Stephen O’Leary and Darren Finlay were guilty of missing clear goal chances in the second half.
Brian Nugent began the scoring with a free for O’Dempsey’s in the opening minute but The Heath hit back with the next four points to take the lead for the one and only time.
A brace of frees from Daithi Carroll were added to by points from Mark Dunne and James Phelan to move The Heath into a three point lead by the midpoint of the half.
But back came O’Dempsey’s. The visitors tied the game with three quickfire points via Darren Finlay, Stephen O’Leary and Eugene Nolan before Nugent gave them a lead they wouldn’t relinquish thanks to his second free after twenty minutes.
The game’s only goal arrived eight minutes before half time and it came as a result of a fine team move from the Killenard outfit. Tommy Kehoe won back possession on his own 45 and picked out Conor Meredith who switched the ball to Eugene Nolan.
The centre forward delicately clipped the ball into Eoin Finlay’s path and he showed great composure to round keeper Joe Walshe before planting the ball in the bottom corner.
The Heath responded well to the concession of that goal with points courtesy of Robbie Dowling, Eoin Delaney, Daithi Carroll and Podge Whelan before half time.
But O’Dempsey’s kept in front with Eoin Finlay, Matthew Finlay and Barry Kelly all raising white flags to give them a 1-8 to 0-8 lead at half time.
Daithi Carroll cut the arrears to two on the resumption of play but O’Dempsey’s created two clear goal chances in the minutes that followed.
The first came from Bobby Sweeney when his shot forced a great save from Joe Walshe with the ball going over the bar while Stephen O’Leary fired wide a moment later.
Matthew Finaly and Daithi Carroll swapped a brace of points before O’Dempsey’s had another goal chance when Darren Finlay went around The Heath keeper Walshe but fumbled the ball with the goal at his mercy and the chance evaporated.
Matthew Finlay then kicked his fourth point but Carroll and Jimmy Nerney responded for The Heath to leave just the goal between them as we entered injury time.
The Heath needed one to snatch a draw but Ciarán Hyland’s late effort went over the bar and time ran out for the home team.
Despite this defeat, The Heath still sit four points clear of the dropzone but they will be hoping that neither Ballyroan-Abbey or Arles-Killeen pick up points in their games this weekend for it to remain that way.
SCORERS – O’DEMPSEY’S: Eoin Finlay 1-1, Matthew Finlay 0-4 (0-1 free), Brian Nugent 0-2 frees, Barry Kelly, Bobby Sweeney, Darren Finlay, Eugene Nolan and Stephen O’Leary 0-1 each THE HEATH: Daithi Carroll 0-6 (0-5 frees), Mark Dunne, Robbie Dowling, Podge Whelan, Jimmy Nerney, Ciarán Hyland, Eoin Delaney and James Phelan 0-1 each
O’DEMPSEY’S: Podge Bannon; Tommy Kehoe, Shane Nerney, Cormac O’Hora; Robbie Kehoe, Barry Kelly, Richard Whelehan; Conor Meredith, Brian Nugent; Bobby Sweeney, Eugene Nolan, Matthew Finlay; Stephen O’Leary, Eoin Finlay, Darren Finlay. Subs: Eoin Cunningham for Nolan (49mins), David Howlin for M. Finlay (51mins), Sean McMahon for E. Finlay (58mins)
THE HEATH: Joe Walshe; Gary Smith, Bob Delaney, Alan Whelan; Aidan Bergin, Jimmy Nerney, James Phelan; Daithi Carroll, JP Nerney; Robbie Dowling, Eoin Delaney, Brian Ging; Podge Whelan, Andrew Booth, Mark Dunne. Subs: Ciarán Booth for E. Delaney (37mins), Chris Bergin for P. Whelan (37mins), Ciarán Hyland for Dunne (48mins), Robbie Ging for B. Ging (48mins), Liam Campbell for Dowling (57mins)
Referee: Brendan McCann (Portarlington)
SEE ALSO – Here are all of Thursday’s Laois GAA results