Sunday 21 January 2018

History and scores galore for McNamees as Rhode take summit

Rhode 0-12 Clara 0-9

Kellaghan: Guided Rhode to a record 28th Offaly SFC crown. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Kellaghan: Guided Rhode to a record 28th Offaly SFC crown. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Brian Lowry

It was a day of records in Tullamore as Rhode moved to the top of the Offaly SFC roll of honour after they claimed their 28th title thanks to their victory over Clara while their lynchpin midfielder Alan McNamee collected a record 10th senior football medal.

A three-point game in the end, the heavy favourites coming into the game never pulled away as Clara proved their final credentials by pushing them all the way.

The scoring contribution of Niall McNamee was a big factor in the match with his eight points standing out in a low scoring game.

Clara did bring it back level at one stage in the second half but in truth, Rhode never looked like not retaining the title with Niall McNamee in free-scoring form from play and from frees as Clara's challenge dwindled as the game wore on.

It was close at half time as Rhode led 0-6 to 0-4 with both sides proving wasteful in an opening half that saw Niall McNamee kick five of Rhode's six points.

Both sides spurned goal chances with Clara in particular living to rue chances that went by the wayside.

The second half continued in the same manner and while it was a full-blooded affair, the quality left a lot to be desired. Clara did kick the first two points of the second half with Pa Smith on target on both occasions and at 0-6 each, the game hung in the balance.

Luke Dignam then spurned a superb goal chance for Clara before Rhode showed the mark of champions with three scores in a row from the McNamee cousins Niall (two) and Ruairi as they led 0-9 to 0-6 with 10 minutes to go.

Those scores according to Rhode manager Pascal Kellaghan were crucial.

"That was crucial and when we went four or five up," he said."I thought we were comfortable at that stage.

"Not playing well people will say but I thought Clara brought huge intensity, heart and pace to it. They are a real good team and we expected that battle."

The final 10 minutes saw the best spell with both sides kicking three points each but Rhode maintained their cushion, despite having Shane Sullivan sent off on two yellow cards, to make history as 'The Village' moved top of Offaly's roll of honour.

Rhode now march on to face Portlaoise in the Leinster championship on home soil in two weeks time but they go into that game with plenty of work to do.

While admitting to not being at their best, Kellaghan was happy with how they ground it out. "It was very close and the boys had to dig deep," he said. "It was probably one of our best wins in terms of Clara put it up to us. We weren't firing on all cylinders but when the chips were down, I thought the boys showed huge class."

Scorers - Rhode: N McNamee 0-8 (0-5 frees and 0-1 '45'); R McNamee 0-2; S Hannon, P McPadden 0-1 each. Clara: T Deehan 0-3 (0-2 frees); P Smith, J O'Hara 0-2 each; R Mitchell, G Guilfoyle 0-1 each.

Rhode: K Garry; J McPadden, B Darby, J Kavanagh; D Kavanagh, N Darby, S Hannon; A McNamee, D Garry; P Sullivan, R McNamee, C McNamee; P McPadden, A Sullivan, N McNamee. Subs: C Heavey (for D Kavanagh 46m), S Sullivan (for D Garry 46m), G McNamee (for P McPadden 58m), M Rigney (for R McNamee 60m).

Cllara: J Deehan; R Slammon, C Stewart, C Doyle; M Mitchell, J Ledwith, L Monaghan; R Brady, S Brady; R Mitchell, J O'Hara, P Smith; L Dignam, G Guilfoyle, T Deehan. Subs: J Fleming (for J O'Hara BC 36m), D Fleming (for P Smith 53m), D Falsey (for M Mitchell 55m), P Deehan (for L Dignam 57m), A Gavin (for J Ledwith 60m).

Ref: G Keyes (Shamrocks).

Irish Independent

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