ACFL Division 1A Final
St Joseph’s and O’Dempsey’s will contest the ACFL Division 1A final in O’Moore Park this evening at 7.15pm.
This will be the second game in the venue on the evening as the Division 2 decider between Mountmellick and Courtwood takes place before hand.
And this one is extremely difficult to call as both sides will go into the game heavily depleted.
St Joseph’s were the best team in the league in the regulation phase and won eight of their opening ten games to open up a sizeable lead on the chasing pack.
However, Adam Campion, Danny Hickey and Michael Keogh headed to the United States for the summer and the Kellyville outfit failed to win any of their final four games.
They drew with Ballyroan-Abbey and Graiguecullen in between defeats to Portlaoise and The Heath but they had amassed enough points by this stage to still finish top of the pile.
Kevin Campion and James Doyle are away travelling and with Ian Donnelly on the long term injury list, St Joseph’s are certainly under-strength.
However, they will have James Kelly available, after the defender missed most of the league because he was playing for Laois.
St Joseph’s will also be able to call upon the services of Brian Daly after he successfully transferred to them last week.
LaoisToday understands that Daly, who made his senior debut for Laois last Saturday, had his case heard again two weeks ago and was initially rejected before being approved on appeal last Friday.
It brings to an end a transfer saga that has gone on since the start of the year.
Daly initially applied to transfer to St Joseph’s in January but had his application rejected by Laois before taking a case to the DRA.
They ruled that Daly’s application had been ruled upon under the 2017 Bye Laws when the 2016 ones should have been applied.
His case was sent back to a specially formed CCC where they decided that it could go through.
O’Dempsey’s gained promotion from Division 1B and were always knocking around the top three places during the league phase.
But Peter Brady’s men seemed to have blown their league final chances when they lost two of their final three games against Stradbally and Graiguecullen.
This put Portlaoise into second position as we headed for the final round of matches with both teams facing sides who were already relegated.
O’Dempsey’s defeated Arles-Killeen but Portlaoise conceded two late goals to go down by 2-6 to 0-7 against Ballyroan-Abbey – a result which saw the Killenard outfit leapfrog the Town and reach the final.
But they too have their own injury problems. Conor Meredith is currently in a case while Rory Bracken has been out for a number of weeks.
There are also doubts over the fitness of Robbie Kehoe.
The pair first clashed in March with St Joseph’s winning by 2-8 to 0-10 but O’Dempsey’s turned things around in May, triumphing by 2-12 to 2-6.
So it is certainly hard to call and it could go down to the wire in the end.