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Rhode captain Niall Darby with the Dowling Cup after the Offaly County Senior Football Championship Final match between Rhode and Tullamore at Bord na Móna O'Connor Park in Tullamore, Offaly. 
Rhode captain Niall Darby with the Dowling Cup after the Offaly County Senior Football Championship Final match between Rhode and Tullamore at Bord na Móna O'Connor Park in Tullamore, Offaly. 

Offaly SFC Final: Rhode defeat Tullamore to win 30th title


Tullamore Court Hotel Offaly SFC Final

RHODE 1-9 TULLAMORE 1-7

Kevin Egan at Bord na Móna O’Connor Park

Rhode cemented their spot on top of the Offaly Roll of Honour with their 30th senior championship title this afternoon, holding off a late Tullamore push to edge a dour final by two points in dismal conditions at Bord na Móna O’Connor Park.

The senior “B” final which preceded this game, finishing 2-13 to 2-5 in favour of Durrow (the other side of Tullamore parish), showed that it was possible to score in the wind and rain that battered down in the midlands venue, but with both sides protecting possession and trying to minimise risks on treacherous underfoot conditions, a similar tally was never likely to be needed to win this one.

Playing with the aid of a fiercely strong breeze in the first half, Tullamore showed the value of that assistance when John Moloney and Nigel Bracken fired over points from long distance. Meanwhile Rhode had to work a lot harder to get the ball into a scoring position, though they managed to do just that and move 0-3 to 0-2 in front shortly after the water break.

Tullamore’s strength and mobility through the middle came to the fore as Aaron Leavy and Ciarán Egan pushed the Blues 0-5 to 0-3 ahead at the break, but the tide quickly shifted back towards Rhode after half time, with Niall McNamee starting to hit top form close to goal.

He and first cousin Rúairí McNamee tied up the game at 0-5 each, then two more points from Niall piled on the pressure, with the Tullamore forward line starved of good ball. A scrambled goal from Aaron Kellaghan put real distance between the sides at the start of the final quarter and Rhode simply looked to wind down the clock from there, monopolising possession and working the ball over and back across the field.

It wasn’t until the 55th minute that John Moloney kicked Tullamore’s first score of the half from a free, but it was only in injury time that the Blues threatened to pull off a remarkable comeback, first kicking a point from Peter Fox and then adding a goal from Aaron Leavy in the fifth minute of stoppage time. There was a moment of pure tension when the ball was scrambled over the Rhode goal-line again with the next play, but a free out was awarded and the Village men – and their record of not going two years without winning an Offaly championship since 2002/03 – were saved.

Scorers for Rhode: Niall McNamee 0-5 (0-1m), Aaron Kellaghan 1-1, Anton Sullivan, Dylan Kavanagh & Ruairí McNamee 0-1 each.

Scorers for Tullamore: Aaron Leavy 1-2, John Moloney 0-2f, Nigel Bracken, Ciarán Egan & Peter Fox 0-1 each.

RHODE: Ken Garry; Brian Darby, Jake Kavanagh, James McPadden; Gareth McNamee, Eoin Rigney, Niall Darby; Dylan Kavanagh, Alan McNamee; Ciarán Heavey, Rúairí McNamee, Conor McNamee; Aaron Kellaghan, Niall McNamee, Anton Sullivan. Subs: Paul McPadden for Heavey (37), Stephen Hannon for Sullivan (53), Keith Murphy for G McNamee (59), Pauric Sullivan for R McNamee (59), Darren Garry for A McNamee (60).

TULLAMORE: Shaun Martin; Ciarán Burns, Paul McConway, Patrick Robilliard; Kevin O’Brien, Declan Hogan, Oisín Keenan Martin; Ciarán Egan, Aaron Leavy; Nigel Bracken, Michael Brazil, Luke Plunkett; Peter Fox, John Moloney, Luke Egan. Subs: Shane Dooley for L Egan (half-time), Corey White for S Martin (47), Ger Ward for Plunkett (60).

Referee: Marius Stones (Clara).