O’Dempsey’s 1-14 Stradbally 3-11
Laois Shopping Centre ACFL Division 1A
Stradbally inflicted a first league defeat of the season over reigning Division 1A champions O’Dempsey’s thanks in no small part to a simply stunning display by their goalkeeper.
Wayne Comerford, older brother of Waterford FC player Garry, pulled off no fewer than five incredible saves in the second half of the game as Stradbally won by three points in the end.
It looked like we were heading for a draw with two minutes to play but when Colm Kelly’s shot came back off the upright, Podge Fitzpatrick reacted first for Stradbally and scored what proved the winning goal.
In what was a high scoring affair, O’Dempsey’s began it through Matthew Finlay. Stradbally replied via Colm Begley and the sides continued to trade points until the tenth minute.
Barry Kelly and Eoin Finlay scored for O’Dempsey’s with Tom Shiel replying each time before the home team reeled off two in a row via Matthew Finlay and the aforementioned Kelly.
Stradbally were level by the midpoint of the half thanks to Tom Shiel and Conor Delaney before the latter gave the visitors the lead for the first time when he pounced on a defensive mix up to score the game’s first goal.
O’Dempsey’s responded well though. Eoin Finlay raised a white flag before Dan McCormack and Matthew Finlay combined to create a chance which Eoin smashed to the back of the net before Conor Meredith levelled things up.
And it looked like we would head for half time this way but Stradbally had other ideas. Tom Shiel’s pass was met first time on the half volley by Conor Delaney and it arrowed into the corner of the net to leave it 2-7 to 1-7 at the break.
Matthew Finaly and Rory Bracken reduced the arrears to one on the resumption of play but Colm Kelly’s first free of the evening helped Stradbally keep a two point cushion.
Conor Meredith and Tom Shiel exchanged points before Comerford made the first of his saves when he raced off his line to thwart Mark Barry.
O’Dempsey’s were on top now and went ahead with three minutes of normal time to play thanks to substitute Stephen O’Leary and Rory Bracken.
They could have put the game to bed in that period by Comerford was unbeatable. He denied Barry, Matthew Finlay and Dan McCormack all from point blank range in separate attacks to keep Stradbally in the game.
And they took full advantage. Fitzpatrick snatched the crucial goal with Shiel and Kelly kicking a free each to move Stradbally four points ahead.
Five minutes of injury time were played and the best O’Dempsey’s could muster was a Matthew Finlay point as Comerford kept them out and Stradbally held on for their second win of the season.
SCORERS – Stradbally: Conor Delaney 2-1, Tom Shiel 0-5 (four frees), Colm Kelly 0-3 (all frees), Podge Fitzpatrick 1-0, Colm Begley and Damien Murphy 0-1 each O’Dempsey’s: Matthew Finlay 0-5 (two frees), Eoin Finlay 1-2, Barry Kelly, Rory Bracken and Conor Meredith 0-2 each, Stephen O’Leary 0-1 (free)
O’DEMPSEY’S: Podge Bannon; Cormac O’Hora, Peter O’Leary, Shane Nerney; Robbie Kehoe, Tommy Kehoe, Tom Kelly; Rory Bracken, Barry Kelly; Micheal Finlay, Conor Meredith, Matthew Finlay; Mark Barry, Dan McCormack, Eoin Finlay. Subs: Stephen O’Leary for O’Hora (41mins, black card)
STRADBALLY: Wayne Comerford; Colin Beale, Liam Knowles, Jamie Kavanagh; Jack Langton, Eoin Buggie, Charlie O’Brien; Darren Maher, Colm Begley; Conor Delaney, Tom Shiel, Podge Fitzpatrick; Colm Kelly, Jody Dillon, Damien Murphy. Subs: Eamon Conlon for Beale (17mins, inj), Jamie Devoy for Knowles (58mins, inj)
Referee: Darren Bracken (Portarlington)