Home Sport GAA Second-half goals key as O’Dempsey’s reach county final for first time in...

Second-half goals key as O’Dempsey’s reach county final for first time in 35 years

Mark Barry

O’Dempsey’s 2-13 Graiguecullen 0-14
Laois Shopping Centre SFC semi-final

O’Dempsey’s will play in the Laois SFC final for the first time in 35 years after they got the better of Graiguecullen in O’Moore Park this afternoon.

Not since 1983 – when they were beaten by St Joseph’s – have the Killenard men marched behind the band on county final day but they’ll end that wait in two weeks time when they take on Portlaoise. They’ll be looking to win their first title since 1980 of course but for now they can look forward to a big day out, one that has eluded them for so long.

Second-half goals from Mark Barry and Dan McCormack were the crucial scores, McCormack’s finish with seven minutes remaining finally putting the game beyond Graigue.

When the sides met in Round 1, two goals from Aaron Forbes helped Graigue to the win but the O’Dempsey’s defence kept tabs on him on this occasion – and it made all the difference.

The first half was an edgy affair. Michael Finlay got O’Dempsey’s first two points, one either side of a Jamie Parr free and then Matthew Finlay got his first to put O’Dempsey’s 0-3 to 0-1 up after 13 minutes.

Graigue, however, hit the next four, one from play from Brian Byrne and frees from Byrne, Parr and goalkeeper Danny Bolger.

O’Dempsey’s were playing with the wind – and they hit back by hitting the next five points, four of them from play.

Matthew Finlay got one, Mark Barry got two lovely scores off his left boot, and Conor Meredith kicked the other. Matthew Finlay then added a free after being fouled himself, the only O’Dempsey’s score of the opening half not to come from play.

The last score of the half went to Graigue, another free from Brian Byrne. At half time O’Dempsey’s led 0-8 to 0-6 but having to face into the wind after the break would it be enough?

Michael Finlay hit two lovely points within a minute of the restart to give them a four-point cushion.

Graigue then kicked the next three, Ross Hennessy and Mark Timmons from play and another Parr free.

Barry Kelly responded immediately to Graigue reducing the gap to one with a point and while Brian Byrne cancelled that out with his fourth of the game, O’Dempsey’s then struck for the game’s first goal – a brilliant finish from 18-year-old Mark Barry after a great run.

Graigue refused to go away and Mark Timmons bombed over a couple of long-range efforts to keep them in it. But O’Dempsey’s had another goal in them – this time from big Dan McCormack after being set up by Conor Meredith with seven minutes of normal time remaining.

That put them six up and they had enough to see it out from there.

SCORERS –  O’Dempsey’s: Mark Barry 1-4 (0-2 frees),Michael Finlay 0-4, Matthew Finlay 0-3 (one free), Dan McCormack 1-0, Conor Meredith 0-1, Barry Kelly 0-1;  Graiguecullen: Brian Byrne 0-5 (two frees), Jamie Parr 0-4 (frees), Mark Timmons 0-3, Ross Hennessy 0-1, Danny Bolger 0-1 (free).

GRAIGUECULLEN: Danny Bolger; Tunde Ogunfowora, Mark Timmons, Martin Doyle; Jamie Sheehan, Trevor Collins, Jimmy Bolton; Shane O’Neill, Aaron Forbes; Brian Byrne, Alan Coleman, Luke Alsybury; Danny Alsybury, Ross Hennessy, Jamie Parr. Subs: Lee Timmons for Sheehan (39), Jamie Malone for Doyle (51), James Doogue for D Alsybury (57), Dean Malone for Ogunfowora (57)

O’DEMPSEY’S: Padraig Bannon; Tommy Kehoe, Shane Nerney, Cormac O’Hora; Tom Kelly, Peter O’Leary, Robbie Kehoe; Barry Kelly, Rory Bracken; Mark Barry, Conor Meredith, Matthew Finlay, Dan McCormack, Michael Finlay, Bryan Nugent.

REFEREE: Joe Brennan (Crettyard)

SEE ALSO – Portlaoise ease past St Joseph’s to book final place again