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If the semi-finals of the Offaly football Championship are any indication of what is to come in the final, this will be a game to remember. Both Rhode and Tullamore had to dig incredibly deep to win their respective semi-finals. The fact that the final occurs two weeks after the semis is something both sides will be grateful for.
Firstly, Rhode looked to be heading out until Ruauri McNamee kicked a 65th-minute equaliser to send the game to extra-time. Opponents Edenderry started slower but found their feet as the game went on. An upset seemed to be on the cards until McNamee’s heroics. Heading into extra-time at 0-11 each, both sides knew a goal would hugely swing the game in their favour. Then, just before half time in overtime, Niall McNamee found the net. Rhode kicked on to win 1-14 to 0-13.
Incredibly, this will be Rhode’s ninth final appearance in a row. Last year, they finished runners-up to Ferbane. But, that loss was preceded by a treble and wins in ’14 and ’12. Their experience of knockout football hugely aided them in the semi-final and could again be called upon in the showdown.
It's the fifth minute of injury-time, you desperately need a point, who has nerves of steel?
Watch Ruairi McNamee's equaliser for @RhodeGAA & Kevin McDermott's winner for @DurrowGAA yesterday.
Hoping for the same excitement today! pic.twitter.com/AoaXZPdYx9
— Official Offaly GAA (@Offaly_GAA) September 20, 2020
Next, Tullamore qualified for the Offaly football Championship final by means of the competition’s first penalty shootout. At the halfway point, Tullamore were a point to the good. However, holders Ferbane came out in the second half to lay down a marker. On 32 minutes, Cathal Flynn scored the game’s only goal and Ferbane were three points up. This only spurred on the underdogs. Five unanswered points left them 1-7 to 0-12 up. Joe Maher stepped up for Ferbane and scored twice in injury-time to send the second semi-final to extra-time.
The drama continued for the next twenty minutes. Aaron Leavy seemed to have won it with an amazing point for Tullamore. Still, Ferbane equalised through Cian Johnson and the game headed to penalties. That’s when Ferbane’s luck ran out though. It took ten penalties each to end it. But, in the end Tullamore made it to their first final since 2013.
Rhode carry the title of favourites into the final. Paddy Power priced them at 1/4. Whereas, Tullamore are 7/2 and a draw is 10/1. Tullamore have already proved themselves capable of causing an upset and could do so again. But Rhode know how to win finals and will be backing themselves to regain the trophy.
Paths to the Final
Rhode: 1-19 vs 1-10 Clara; 1-14 vs 0-8 Tullamore; 3-13 vs 0-10 Cappincur; 1-14 vs 0-13 Edenderry (Semi-Final AET).
Tullamore: 1-8 vs 0-12 Cappincur; 0-8 vs 1-14 Rhode; 1-17 vs 0-9 Clara; 0-17 vs 1-14 Ferbane (9-8 penalties, semi-final).
Offaly Football Championship Final: Rhode vs Tullamore, Sunday 4th October, 4pm (O’Connor Park).
'The Blues' are through!
Watch the nine penalties that @tullamoregaa scored in their epic shoot-out with Ferbane in the Senior Football Championship semi-final at Bord na Mona O'Connor Park yesterday. Niall Stack's men will meet Rhode in the final. pic.twitter.com/qR0pnYMRu8
— Official Offaly GAA (@Offaly_GAA) September 21, 2020