Kelly helps Edenderry turn corner and edge out rivals Rhode
Edenderry 1-12 Rhode 1-10
It may have been a significant surprise but there was no disputing the merit of Edenderry's success when they got the better of Rhode in a thrilling decider in Tullamore yesterday.
Just two points separated the sides and Rhode will rue some poor misses that could and perhaps should have given them a second bite of the cherry, but Edenderry fully deserved their win.
Favourites Rhode were aiming to join Tullamore on the top of the Offaly roll of honour with 27 titles, but apart from occasional flashes they gave a disappointing display.
It was a very entertaining game, played with intensity and some quality football thrown into a compelling mix, but Edenderry exerted a quiet control on proceedings after a shocking start.
Just 20 seconds had elapsed when Rhode drew first blood with a well-taken Ruairi McNamee goal after a pass from cousin Niall McNamee but they couldn't build on it as Edenderry quickly settled.
A great work ethic was a big feature of Edenderry's performance and they tackled hard as they ensured that Rhode didn't have a second to spare on the ball. They were on level terms, 0-4 to 1-1, by the tenth minute as the realisation dawned on Rhode that they were in a ferocious battle.
Rhode were going okay though and a point from Darren Garry, who had a fine first half at midfield, helped them to a 1-4 to 0-5 lead in the 17th minute. Some poor wides kept them in Edenderry's sights and the Reds got on top in the second quarter.
Richie Dalton gave them a foothold at midfield and their crucial score came four minutes from the break. David Hanlon made a great break forward out of defence and passed to Derek Kelly who brought the O'Connor Park crowd to their feet with a blistering finish from ten yards.
It was a goal of real quality and it helped Edenderry to a 1-7 to 1-6 half-time lead.
There was little separating the sides in the second half but Edenderry were that bit better and had the air of winners from a long way out.
Crucially, they never allowed Rhode to build any momentum and every time the champions threatened to go on a roll, they were able to get a score.
They were level three times in the second half but Rhode couldn't get their noses in front and points from man of the match Sean Doyle and Jordan Hayes gave Edenderry a two-point lead with 15 minutes left, 1-11 to 1-9.
In a nerve-tingling closing ten minutes, Rhode got it back to a point but Niall McNamee and Anton Sullivan missed great chances for an equaliser and Gary Blong's injury-time point settled it.
SCORERS - Edenderry: D Kelly (1f) 1-1; S Doyle (1f) 0-4; R Dalton 0-2; A Mahon, K McGuinness (f), S Moriaty ('45'), J Hayes, G Blong 0-1 each. Rhode: N McNamee 0-5 (1f); R McNamee 1-1; D Garry 0-2; N Darby (f), C McNamee 0-1 each.
EDENDERRY - C Hurley; A Pender, D Hanlon, S Pender; A Mahon, C Byrne, S Moriarty; R Dalton, S Guing; K McGuinness, D Kelly, O Lawton; S Doyle, A McDonnell, J Hayes. Subs: C Hurley for Lawton (h/t), A Kenny for McDonnell (48), M Young for McGuinness (60), G Blong for Hayes (61).
RHODE - K Garry; J Kavanagh, E Rigney, J McPadden; C Heavey, B Darby, E Byrne; A McNamee, D Garry; N Darby, C McNamee, S Hannon; A Sullivan, R McNamee, N NcNamee. Subs: G O'Connell for Byrne (37), S Sullivan for Kavanagh (47), P McPaden for Hannon (48), P Sullivan for D Garry (56), P Kellaghan for R McNamee (57).
REF - D Walsh.