The battle for The Dowling Cup is down to two, and it is Rhode and Clara who will meet in The Tullamore Court Hotel, Offaly Senior Football Final for the first time since 2012, following their respective victories over Gracefield and Ferbane, in front of 2,419 spectators, at Bord na Móna O’Connor Pk this afternoon.
Clara 1-13 Ferbane 1-12
Clara qualified for their first final since 2012 with a dramatic last injury time winning goal from veteran Scott Brady. In the early stages it looked like Ferbane were going to cruise to the final when they led by 1-5 to 0-1 after just 11 minutes. John O’Hara had opened the scoring for Clara after just 25 seconds, but Ferbane soon took over and thanks to the accuracy of Ryan Heavin and a goal from Aidan Keenaghan they raced into a seven point lead. In fact but for some poor decision making up front that lead could have been much more. They still led by seven points 1-7 to 0-3 after 19 minutes, but amazingly failed to score again until the 23rd minute of the second half. By half time Clara had reduced the arrears to three 1-7 to 0-7.
On the resumption it was all Clara and they drew level in the 47th minute and then points from John O’Hara and Graham Guilfoyle (2), edged them 0-13 to 1-7 in front and it looked game over. However, inspired by substitutes Colin Kenny and Cian Johnson, Ferbane hit a purple patch and between the 53rd and 63rd minute kicked 5 unanswered points to go back two in front and the final beckoned. However, Clara were not done with and when they were awarded a free 30 metres out Scott Brady blasted to the net, and despite the protests from Ferbane that the kick was taken from the wrong spot, the goal stood. Ferbane did have one last chance of an equaliser, but the effort drifted wide of the mark.
Clara: Joey Deehan, Richie Slammon, Carl Stewart, Colm Doyle, Matthew Mitchell 0-1, John Ledwith, Liam Monaghan, Thomas Deehan 0-5 (0-4f), Ross Brady, Pa Smith 0-1(f), John O’Hara 0-3, Robert Mitchell, Luke Dignam, Graham Guilfoyle 0-3, Scott Brady 1-0 (f) Subs: David Fleming for Smith (45min), Josh Fleming for O’Hara (55min), David Falsey for C Stewart (B.C.) (55min),
Ferbane: Jack Cullinan, Stephen Wren, Ciarán Cahill, Colin Egan, Kevin Nugent, David Kelly, Jack Egan, Kieran McManus, Oisín Kelly 0-1, David Cox 0-1, Joseph Maher 0-2, Leon Fox 0-1, Aidan Keenaghan 1-0, Ryan Heavin 0-4 (0-3f), Shane Nally Subs: Colin Kenny 0-2 for Keenaghan (B.C.) (35min), James Nally for David Kelly (37min), Kyle Higgins for Jack Egan (47min),Cian Johnson 0-1 for Heavin (52min), Damien Egan for James Nally (B.C.)( 61min)
Ref: Fergal Smyth (Kilclonfert)
Rhode 1-15 Gracefield 1-7
The second semi-final had none of the excitement of the first as Rhode cruised to their 6th final in a row. Like Ferbane Rhode got off to a blistering start and led by 1-7 to 0-1 after 18 minutes. However, unlike Ferbane they never looked like relinquishing their lead. Niall McNamee and Anton Sullivan were a thorn in the Gracefield side from the start and by the time Sullivan scored his goal on 18 minutes they were already six clear. The remainder of the half only produced two more scores as Rhode went in leading 1-9 to 0-1.
While Rhode’s victory was never in doubt, Gracefield did up the ante in the second half and actually outscored Rhode 1-6 to 0-6. James McPadden had the opening score of the second half, before Gracefield were dealt another blow when Ruairi Allen received his marching orders. Rhode were 1-13 to 0-4 ahead after 43 minutes, but Gracefield outscored them 1-3 to 0-2 in the closing quarter, the goal coming from Stephen Slattery in the 54th minute. However, it merely only served to take the bare look off the scoreboard as Rhode cruised to yet another County Final.
Rhode: Ken Garry, Dylan Kavanagh, Conor McNamee, Jake Kavanagh, Darren Garry 0-1, Brian Darby, Niall Darby 0-1, Mark Rigney, Ruairi McNamee, James McPadden 0-2, Pauric Sullivan 0-1, Stephen Hannon, Paul McPadden, Anton Sullivan 1-2, Niall McNamee 0-7 (0-4f, 0-1 45’) Subs: Alan McNamee for Conor McNamee (14min), Shane Lowry 0-1 for A McNamee (half-time), Donal Hickey for P Sullivan (52min), Gareth McNamee for D Kavanagh (52min), Anthony Kilmurray for R McNamee (58min)
Gracefield: Jonathan Knight, James Flanagan, Adrian Murphy, Aaron Whelan, Jamie Evans, Ciarán Kiely, Mark Ward, Niall Smith, Ruairi Allen, Keith Mullally 0-1, Karol Slattery, Padraig Duffy 0-1, Philip Hurley, Stephen Flanagan 0-5 (0-4f), Jack Walsh Subs: Jason Slattery for M Ward (38min), Thomas Doyle for P Hurley (39min), Stephen Slattery for J Flanagan (49min), Jason Knight for P Duffy (49min),
Ref: Fintan Pierce (Raheen)