Tullamore Court Hotel Offaly SFC Final Replay
TULLAMORE 0-9 RHODE 1-4
Kevin Egan at Bord na Móna O’Connor Park (from the gaa.ie website)
The resurgence of the Tullamore club continues in Offaly as they dethroned Rhode at the end of an absorbing hour’s action in Bord na Móna O’Connor Park this afternoon, holding the reigning champions to just four points up until Anton Sullivan’s penalty in the fifth minute of stoppage time.
After winning their second consecutive club U-20 final last Tuesday and qualifying for the senior “B” hurling final with a local derby win over Clara a week ago, the Blues didn’t have time to dwell on the way Rhode salvaged a draw a fortnight ago with a remarkable goal from Niall McNamee at the death.
They showed no signs of a hangover from that defeat this afternoon either, as they took control of the contest right from the start against a Rhode side that looked like they wanted to just sit back, absorb the pressure and conserve energy against a younger Tullamore side.
Some remarkable scores from Rúairí McNamee up against two or three defenders meant that to a degree, that strategy worked, even though Rhode’s cause was aided by some errant shooting from Tullamore.
Ciarán Egan and Luke Plunkett struck some excellent points for the town side but joint captains Michael Brazil and John Moloney both failed to raise a flag with shots they would normally expect to make, and so the half-time lead was just a single point, 0-4 to 0-3 in Tullamore’s favour.
Moloney hit his first score of the game in the first minute of the second half and that was followed by a well-taken Anton Sullivan point from a tight angle on the next attack to reduce that gap back down to one, but if those points were taken as an indication of a likely increase in the rate of scoring, that proved to be a false dawn.
After 15 tight, scoreless minutes, Moloney added another point from a free in a game that was littered with errors, but in which Tullamore continued to dominate in terms of both territory and possession.
Declan Hogan dominated his battle with Niall McNamee, young forwards like Luke Plunkett, Ciarán Egan and John Furlong were hugely energetic and effective, while Aaron Leavy and Michael Brazil controlled midfield for the Blues.
Eventually, the dam started to break and in the last ten minutes Diarmuid Egan, Nigel Bracken and John Furling kicked good scores to edge Tullamore five points clear, thus giving them the leeway to concede a late penalty, which was fired to the bottom corner of the net by Anton Sullivan.
Scorers for Tullamore: Luke Plunkett and John Moloney (0-1f) 0-2 each, Ciarán Egan, Aaron Leavy, Diarmuid Egan, Nigel Bracken and John Furlong 0-1 each.
Scorers for Rhode: Rúairí McNamee 0-3, Anton Sullivan 1-1 (1-0 pen).
Tullamore: Corey White; Declan Hogan, Paul McConway, Nigel Bracken; Kevin O’Brien, Johnny Moloney, Oisín Keenan Martin; Michael Brazil, Aaron Leavy; Harry Plunkett, Diarmuid Egan, Ciarán Egan; John Furlong, Luke Plunkett, Luke Egan.
Subs: Shane Dooley for C Egan (39), Ciarán Burns for O’Brien (43), Tom Furlong for H Plunkett (60), Michael Fox for L Plunkett (60+3)
Rhode: Kenny Garry; James McPadden, Conor McNamee, Keith Murphy; Niall Darby, Dylan Kavanagh, Brian Darby; Alan McNamee, Pauric Sullivan; Darren Garry, Anton Sullivan, Ciarán Heavey; Rúairí McNamee, Aaron Kellaghan, Niall McNamee.
Subs: Gareth McNamee for P Sullivan (half-time), Shane Sullivan for Heavey (45), Glen O’Connell for Kelleghan (52).
Referee: Fintan Pierce (Raheen)