Old Leighlin punished by deadly McNamee
Old Leighlin 1-7
LEINSTER CLUB SFC
OFFALY senior star Niall McNamee turned in a superb display when hitting 1-6 as Offaly champions Rhode advanced at the expense of a spirited Old Leighlin from Carlow at Dr Cullen Park yesterday.
McNamee -- the talented Rhode No 15 -- left his first major imprint on the game in the 25th minute when he crashed a penalty to the top of the Old Leighlin net to put his side 1-3 to 0-2 ahead.
In the lead-up to the spot kick McNamee's forward colleague Anton Sullivan completed a lovely, flowing Rhode movement by shooting to the Old Leighlin net but Laois referee Eddie Kinsella had already blown for the penalty.
Old Leighlin put up a formidable challenge to the visitors but they lacked the overall composure and options close to goal that the Offaly men displayed. They also conceded too many scorable frees to a player of McNamee's free-taking ability and as a result Rhode held a 1-3 to 0-3 interval lead after an undistinguished first half.
From the throw-in for the second half, Old Leighlin midfielder Mark Brennan was fouled and his partner in the middle Patrick Hickey pumped the free into the Rhode goalmouth, where corner-forward Seamus Kinsella rose to flick the ball to the onrushing Hughie Gahan, who volleyed home from close range. But Rhode's composure was not shaken by that setback. They continued to play bright, inventive football.
The visitors quickly regained the lead when McNamee pointed from play while another flowing movement saw Sullivan double the lead.
Old Leighlin never gave up, though, but were never able to get their noses in front. In the 40th minute, with Rhode 1-6 to 1-4 ahead, Old Leighlin's outstanding captain Pat Hickey broke through but his shot for goal was deflected over the bar by Eddie McDonald in the Rhode goal.
It was the Carlow champions' best chance to take the lead. In the final stages Rhode took control, with McNamee completing a marvellous personal showing with a superb long-range point to finish the game's scoring and give the Offaly champions a safe, four-point margin. That victory for Rhode means they now qualify for a meeting with Skryne of Meath in the next round.
Scorers -- Rhode: N McNamee 1-6, (1-0 pen, 0-4f), N Darby (0-1f), A Sullivan 0-2 each, P Keelaghan 0-1. Old Leighlin: H Gahan 1-0, P Hickey, C Coughlan (0-2f), Seamus Kinsella (0-2f) 0-2 each, S Daly 0-1.
Rhode -- E McDonald; D Murphy, B Darby, D Hope; C Heavey, S Sullivan, E Byrne; A McNamee, M Dunne; N Darby, P Sullivan, A Sullivan; G O'Connell, P Kelleghan, N McNamee.
Old Leighlin -- J Clarke; R Burke, M Meaney, S Daly; D Dowling, J Hayden, G Hickey; P Hickey, M Brennan; D Kelly, C Coughlan, D Bambrick; Sean Kinsella, H Gahan, Seamus Kinsella. Subs: E Fitzgerald for Sean Kinsella (44).
Ref -- E Kinsella (Laois).