Sunday, 25th September 2016
O’Connor Park: Ferbane v Tullamore, 2.00pm; Gracefield v Rhode, 3.30pm.
Once the dominant force in Offaly football, 19 years have passed since Ferbane last reached the Offaly Senior Football final. Since then, Tullamore have re-emerged as one of the top clubs in the county and enter this Sunday’s semi-final as favourites to advance to their sixth decider since the start of the new millennium.
‘The Blues’ scraped through to the semi-finals with a second-place finish in Group 1, thanks to a superior scoring difference than reigning champions Edenderry, who they drew with in the final group game on 26th August.
Previously, Tullamore were beaten by Rhode in the first round, but rebounded with a three point victory over Clara in their second fixture. Their big worry this weekend is an injury to Offaly star Johnny Moloney which he suffered against Edenderry and which may rule him out of contention for a place on the team.
Following some great underage successes in the past decade, a victory for Ferbane would provide a huge boost for the west Offaly club, who won the last of their 11 titles in 1994. They enter this fixture full of confidence after a 100% record in Group 1, with comfortable wins over Ballycumber, Gracefield and St Rynagh’s.
Those results indicate that this could be a closely fought semi-final between two traditional forces in Offaly football, which should attract a big crowd to O’Connor Park for the 2.00pm throw-in.
The second part of the double-header sees Rhode take on Gracefield. Rhode have been the form team in the championship so far as they bid to make up for the disappointment of last year’s final defeat to Edenderry. They have developed a trend of winning the title ever second year, and topped Group 1 with three big victories, as their score difference of +34 shows.
Despite their heavy loss to Ferbane, Gracefield had six point victories over both St Rynagh’s and Ballycumber and while their task is a difficult one, they won’t shirk from the challenge. In both their group wins, Gracefield struck for two goals and will know that green flags will be required again, although Rhode will provide a much sterner test than they have faced so far. Throw-in for the second semi-final at O’Connor Park is at 3.30pm.