McNamee inspires Rhode to 24th Title

November 8, 2018

Tullamore Court Hotel Offaly SFC Final

Rhode 3-9, Clara 2-11
INSPIRED by their prolific captain Niall McNamee who bagged 2-4, Rhode captured their 24th Offaly SFC title and exacted sweet revenge after they overcame reigning champions Clara in front of 6,500 spectators at O’Connor Park, Tullamore yesterday.
The sides were deadlocked on six different occasions in this repeat of the ’09 final which didn’t ignite until the concluding half. Both clubs had only three scorers during a tension filled battle and eight yellow cards were brandished while the new champions didn’t score their first point from play until the 41st minute.

Man of the Match McNamee dedicated the victory to the memory of Christy Kellaghan, father of Rhode stalwart Paschal, and as he accepted the Dowling Cup he also paid tribute to Clara full back Joe Quinn who bounced back from a life threatening illness and said he looked forward to seeing him back in the county jersey in 2011.

Clara, despite playing into the breeze, almost enjoyed the dream start however Rhode ‘keeper Eddie McDonald spread himself smartly to deny John O’Hara.
The respective captains McNamee and Thomas Deehan traded converted frees before McNamee accepted an 8th minute Shane Sullivan pass and he displayed genial skill and balance to leave John Ledwith and Kevin Meehan in his wake and confidently toe-poke the ball to the twine.
Pat Flanagan managed Clara equalised four minutes later, 1-1 apiece, when John Reynolds burst through and set up Deehan for a fisted goal.  
Rhode regained the initiative in the 16th minute. Laboured play in the Clara rearguard saw Kellaghan seize possession. He released Paraic Sullivan who in turn set up younger brother Anton for a fisted goal. So a Clara side that had leaked only two goals in their previous seven matches had already been hit for two. Rhode introduced Alan McNamee and they controlled mid-field but they failed to translate this superiority, kicking eight unsightly wides to Clara’s four. Niall McNamee was off target with frees and Niall Darby sent another off the upright, while McNamee also blazed a powerful 27th minute goal-ward bound strike inches wide.
Clara, without doing anything spectacular, gradually hauled Rhode back in and points by Deehan (2 frees) and O’Hara  ensured the sides went in level at the interval, 1-4 to 2-1. On the resumption Darby and Deehan slotted over frees at either end before Clara went 1-7 to 2-2 up with scores from John Reynolds and Deehan (free).
Sandwiched between these Clara points, Rhode corner back Brian Darby sent  a thunderbolt of a strike crashing off the crossbar but the classy Niall McNamee didn’t make the same mistake, leaving Quinn behind and applying a sublime finish, 3-2 to 1-7.
The sides were deadlocked twice more before Rhode, between the 43rd and 60th minutes, outscored Clara by 0-6 to 0-2 as the magnificent McNamee (2) and Niall Darby (4, including three frees) made it 3-9 to 1-11. Clara emptied their bench and rallied bravely but not even O’Hara’s injury time goal could spoil Rhode’s party.
Scorers for Rhode: N McNamee 2-4 (0-2 frees), N Darby 0-5 (0-4 frees), A Sullivan 1-0.
Scorers for Clara: T Deehan 1-6 (0-6 frees), J O’Hara 1-2, J Reynolds 0-3.
Rhode: E McDonald; C Heavey, D Murphy, B Darby; R Leavy, D Hope, S Sullivan; R Malone, M Dunne; N Darby, P Sullivan, A Sullivan; J Coffey, P Kellaghan, N McNamee.
Subs.: A McNamee for Coffey (27 mins), E Byrne for Leavy (half time), J Kilmurray for Malone (56 mins).
Clara: K Meehan; J Ledwith, J Quinn, D Kelly; D Ledwith, M Mitchell, L Hiney; S Brady, R Brady; T Dalton, J Reynolds, P Deehan; T Deehan, J O’Hara, G Guilfoyle.
Subs.: A Cronin for J Ledwith (22 mins), M Stones for Hiney (44 mins), K O’Meara for Dalton (56 mins), P Flanagan for P Deehan (57 mins), C Kelly for D Ledwith  (59 mins).
Referee: D Brazil (Shannonbridge).