Rhode 1-14, Ferbane 0-9
Rampant Rhode have won another Offaly Senior Football Championship title, with an eight point victory over Ferbane at O’Connor Park in front of an attendance of 5,519.
Pascal Kellaghan’s side took control from the throw-in and eased their way to their 27th title, which places them joint-top on the Roll of Honour with Tullamore.
Rhode led by 1-9 to 0-3 at the interval and Ferbane – appearing in their first county final since 1997 – were unable to launch a comeback. It was a comfortable season throughout for Rhode, and even though their winning margin in the semi-final versus Gracefield was just four points, they were by far the form team in Offaly throughout 2016.
This success will make amends for last year’s final defeat to Edenderry and also marks a record-equaling ninth medal for midfield stalwart Alan McNamee. His younger brother Niall, who hit 0-6 from play, has now finished either top-scorer or joint top-scorer in no fewer than eight Offaly SFC finals and was also man of the match again.
On this occasion, his tally was only matched by Shane Nally, whose half dozen points for Ferbane all came from placed balls.
Indeed, it was star forward Niall McNamee set wheels in motion for Rhode with the opening score after only 15 seconds.
By the 15th minute, they had established a 0-5 to 0-1 advantage, with McNamee on target twice more, along with Stephen Hannon and Conor McNamee.
During the opening quarter, Ferbane had a half-chance of a goal when Aidan Keenaghan was almost through, only for Rhode ‘keeper Ken Garry to advance quickly and avert the danger.
Paul McPadden made no mistake at the other end for Rhode when he slotted the ball to the net in the 16th minute for the game’s only goal, to increase their lead to 1-6 to 0-1.
There was no let up from then to the break, with Anton Sullivan (two) Niall Darby (free) and Niall McNamee slotting over points. The only responses Ferbane could muster were another couple of frees, compliments of Shane Nally and Joseph Maher.
There was an air of inevitability about the second half. Ferbane registered their first from play through Kevin Nugent, but Rhode hit back through Niall McNamee and his cousin Ruairi McNamee, while Paul McPadden and Anton Sullivan were also on target for the winners.
Meanwhile, Ferbane hit over a few more scores through Nally (frees) and Aaron McDonagh, but on the day Rhode were easily the better team and will now represent Offaly in the Leinster Club Championship.
The Dowling Cup was presented to joint-captains Brian Darby and Conor McNamee by County Board Chairman, Padraig Boland.
Rhode Scorers: Niall McNamee 0-6; Paul McPadden 1-1; Anton Sullivan 0-3; Stephen Hannon, Niall Darby (free), Stephen Hannon, Ruairi McNamee 0-1 each.
Ferbane scorers: Shane Nally (frees) 0-6; Joseph Maher (free), Kevin Nugent, Aaron McDonagh 0-1 each.
RHODE: Ken Garry; James McPadden, Jake Kavanagh, Eoin Rigney; Niall Darby, Brian Darby, Shane Sullivan; Alan McNamee, Conor McNamee; Stephen Hannon, Paraic Sullivan, Anton Sullivan; Paul McPadden, Ruairi McNamee, Niall McNamee.
Subs: Ciaran Heavey for S Sullivan (blood rule); S Sullivan for C Heavey (blood rule); Glen O’Connell for S Hannon; Darren Garry for P Sullivan; Ciaran Heavey for J Kavanagh; Gareth McNamee for P McPadden; Eoghan Byrne for R McNamee.
FERBANE: Kevin Sammon; Stephen Wren, Jack Egan, Ciaran Cahill; Brian Grehan, Leon Fox, James Nally; Kieran McManus, Colin Egan; Oisin Kelly, Shane Nally, David Fox; Joseph Maher, Aidan Keenaghan, Jack Clancy.
Subs: Kevin Nugent for J Clancy; Darragh Keenaghan for A Keenaghan; Conor Lowry for J Egan; Aaron McDonagh for J Nally.
Referee: Fergal Smith (Kilclonfert).