RHODE enjoyed a surprisingly trouble-free afternoon when they recorded a very comfortable win over Shamrocks in an uninspiring clash in Tullamore on Saturday.
While Shamrocks made it interesting for a long time, an upset was a remote possibility and Rhode's place in the final was never really in doubt.
Rhode were content to saunter along in third gear for long spells, but they always looked like they could up the ante when pressed and they left plenty in the tank for Sunday's final against holders and favourites, Clara.
With the two Nialls, McNamee and Darby, in fine point-kicking form on their full-forward line, Rhode were the better side by a good distance.
Shamrocks kicked the first two points through Shane Guinan and PJ Ward but it was all Rhode after this and they fired over the next five points without breaking a sweat. At half-time, Rhode led by 0-8 to 0-5 and though that was not insurmountable, Shamrocks never looked like pulling it back.
They did hang on to Rhode's coat tails for a while in the second half and were just three points behind with 15 minutes left.
However, Rhode soon put the issue to bed and McNamee put daylight between the sides with two magnificent points, while an injury-time goal from Anton Sullivan put the icing on the cake.
SCORERS -- Rhode: N McNamee 0-7 (0-3f), N Darby 0-6 (0-2f), A Sullivan 1-0, P Sullivan 0-2, B Darby 0-1. Shamrocks: PJ Ward 0-4 (0-2f), N Dunne 0-2, P Kelly (0-1 '45'), A Condron, M Conroy, S Guinan 0-1 each.
RHODE -- E McDonald; D Murphy, B Darby, D Hope; C Heavey, S Sullivan, R Leavy; R Malone, A McNamee; J Coffey, P Kellaghan, P Sullivan; N Darby, A Sullivan, N McNamee. Subs: M Dunne for A McNamee (35), G O'Connell for Coffey (45), J Kilmurray for Malone (53).
SHAMROCKS -- A O'Connell; C Mooney, M Stanbrook, P Kelly; L Mooney, A Condron, B Mooney; S Heffernan, B Monaghan; M Conroy, N Dunne, P Minnock; S Guinan, PJ Ward, D Heffernan. Subs: R Keaney for S Heffernan (37), B Kearney for Minnock (46), J Neville for Ward (59).
REF -- M Carty.