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Rhode showed their class as they returned to the pedestal of Offaly football with victory over Tullamore. After losing last year’s final, they ensured their record of not going two years without a title since 2002 – ’03 remained intact.
Tullamore had the added advantage of a strong wind in the opening half. To illustrate, Nigel Bracken and Aaron Leavy kicked early long-range scores to take the lead. Meanwhile, Rhode had to be patient and clinical. This is exactly what they did and soon after the water break Naill McNamee registered his first point to send Rhode 0-3 to 0-2 ahead.
Rhode’s defence was tigerish but in dreadful conditions chances were bound to occur. When they did, Tullamore took full advantage. For example, when Leavy and Ciaran Egan scored in first-half added time, they gave Tullamore a 0-5 to 0-3 lead.
But, with the wind on the side of Rhode after the break, McNamee came to life. Firstly, he and his cousin Ruairí kicked four unanswered points to swing the tide. In contrast, Tullamore’s supply line had dried up and the gap was soon extended after the water-break. Aaron Kellaghan put Rhode five points clear with a poacher’s goal.
Rhode controlled possession in the closing stages. It wasn’t until the 55th minute that Tullamore registered their first second-half score.
There was still time for a nervy finish after Aaron Leavy scored Tullamore’s goal in the fifth minute of stoppage time. Despite one more goal-line scare, Rhode held on and reclaimed the Offaly title after just a one-year absence. The victory over Tullamore showing why they remain the kingpins of Offaly football.
— Official Offaly GAA (@Offaly_GAA) October 4, 2020
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).