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Daly: 'If they're not good enough they're not good enough, but the Rhode lads have no fear'

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Offaly footballer Niall McNamee. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

Offaly footballer Niall McNamee. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

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STRANGE but noticeable. The emergence of a strong Offaly club in either code of late has, almost automatically, been regarded as the exception to the rule of inter-county regression, rather than the first flashing sign of a potential upturn.

Think Coolderry, Kilcormac Killoughey and now Rhode.

"The support is gone from Offaly," admits Rhode's manager, Pat Daly.

"You go to any league match with Offaly involved, there wouldn't be 200 people at it. It must be very demoralising for lads to go in.

"The likes of Niall McNamee, you'd pay money to see him and he goes in and there are 200 people looking at it.

"Not that it would worry him. I'm just saying what they are playing in front of."

Which couldn't but douse all but the most proud of Offaly spirits.

negativity

And is perhaps why Rhode have sporadically thrived in this competition: perhaps their players feel better appreciated in a more familiar environment?

"There's a lot of negativity in the county about this and that but we have a new manager again and I think everyone should row in behind it," says Daly.

"Look, we're not going to win an All-Ireland or Leinster but our aim has to be get out of Division Four, Division Three and maybe Division Two and take it from there."

From small acorns do mighty oaks grow and all that …

But doubtless, Rhode are in a different canoe to Offaly.

They're not a team haunted by past glories, getting kicked around the dark of basement competition.

They're the Mayo, perhaps, of the operation; frequently good enough to get nearly there.

Just not quite good enough yet to get all the way. Thrice in the past eight years they have been at this advanced juncture; a Leinster club SFC final and each time they have lost.

In 2006, Moorefield beat them by seven (3-6 to 0-8).

In 2008, Kilmacud Crokes prevailed by a goal (2-7 to 1-7) and in 2010, the Dublin club again won, this time by five (0-15 to 1-7).

Rhode kicked eight scores in each (0-8, 1-7 and 1-7) and if there is a simple lesson to be learned from history it's that eight scores doesn't often win Leinster Club SFC finals.

"We'd always be an attacking team. We don't set up defensively," Daly insists.

"We feel we have the forwards, so we'll be going at it that way. You have to go at it.

"If we go down fearing Vincent's in any way we're in trouble. And we don't fear them.

massive

"They're a great club team, a massive team, All-Ireland champions, but we don't fear them.

"If we did there'd be no point going down."

Which isn't to say that Rhode have inflicted a Crossmaglen-style regime upon the rest of Offaly and only provincial and/or national glory will sate them.

"We lost the county final last year, even though we were 5-1 on to win," Daly recalls.

"So that was a big shock, within the county. Having said that Tullamore are a very good side.

"A good team. We were short a few players as well.

"Not taking anything away from Tullamore, but we didn't have Anton Sullivan, and didn't have Conor McNamee.

"Shane Sullivan hurt his shoulder in the first 15 minutes.

"So, we took it on the chin, got all the boys back, Alan McNamee left the Offaly set up, Eoin Rigney left the Offaly set up, we got Anton (Sullivan) back, so we were pretty strong again.

"And they've been there before," Daly adds of Sunday's Leinster final in Páirc Tailteann, Navan (2.0).

good

"Rhode are a good team, some of them have won eight county senior medals, (some were involved in) five under-21s in-a-row.

"They've no fear, because that's the way they are.

"If they're not good enough they're not good enough, but the lads have no fear."


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