Football final fever hits Offaly this weekend
Pictured above: Tullamore's Paul McConway wins possession ahead of Rhode's Niall McNamee during the 2013 Offaly SFC final - the last time the two clubs met in a senior county final. Photo: Ger Rogers.
Rhode and Tullamore will go head-to-head in Offaly club football’s showpiece game, the senior championship final, at Bord na Móna O’Connor Park this Sunday.
It’s a significant final in terms of the roll of honour, with favourites Rhode bidding for their 30th title and Tullamore aiming for their 28th.
For many years Tullamore led the way in the roll of honour but Rhode have jumped ahead in recent years, having won ten titles since 2004. In the same period, Tullamore have lifted the Dowling Cup on two occasions, 2007 and 2013.
Tullamore dethroned last year’s champions Ferbane in a dramatic semi-final, earning their place in the decider by way of a penalty shoot-out. For their part, Rhode overcame old rivals Edenderry in their semi-final but they required extra-time to do so.
Rhode are managed by Malachy McNulty who previously guided Portlaoise to three Laois county titles. The Tullamore manager is Niall Stack, who enjoyed success at schools level with Coláiste Choilm earlier this year.
Tullamore suffered a surprise defeat to close neighbours Cappincur in the first round, but have recovered impressively to reach their first final since 2013 when, interestingly enough, they overcame Rhode in the decider.
Johnny Moloney and Paul McConway are joint captains of the Tullamore team, while Rhode are skippered by Niall Darby.
Much will depend on how Tullamore cope with key Rhode forwards Niall McNamee, Anton Sullivan and Ruairi McNamee, while the county town side will be looking for influential displays from the aforementioned Moloney and the likes of Michael Brazil and Declan Hogan.
The Senior ‘A’ final will be preceded by the Senior ‘B’ decider between Durrow and Gracefield. Durrow are managed by colourful former Roscommon goalkeeper Shane Curran, while former Rhode boss Pat Daly is in charge of Gracefield.
On Saturday, Daingean will take on Tullamore’s second team in the Junior ‘A’ FC final (1pm).
Interestingly, Saturday’s Intermediate football final (4pm) will be between two clubs far better known for hurling, with Kilcormac-Killoughey and St Rynagh’s meeting at 4pm. Indeed, the same two clubs will do battle in the Offaly SHC final on Sunday week.
Defending senior hurling champions St Rynagh’s defeated Birr in their semi-final last Sunday (1-20 to 0-17), with the Banagher men finishing strongly in what was a repeat of the 2019 final. K/K overcame Belmont (1-22 to 1-18) in the other semi-final played in Birr last Saturday.
Underage action has resumed in Offaly, following the Covid-19 related restrictions, with a number of games down for decision this weekend.
In addition, next Tuesday night will see four games take place in the Offaly Under-20 FC including the re-fixed quarter-final between St Patrick’s and Na Fianna.
St Patrick’s (an amalgamation which includes Edenderry) had been forced to give a walkover because of a positive Covid-19 test for an Edenderry player, but the game has now been rearranged.
Offaly GAA fixtures digest
Saturday, October 3
Under-17 HC Final
Birr (11:00) Kilcormac-Killoughey v Ballinamere/Durrow, Kieran Dooley.
Tullamore Court Hotel Junior FC Final
O'Connor Park (1pm) Daingean v Tullamore, Chris Dwyer.
Tullamore Court Hotel Intermediate FC Final
O'Connor Park (4pm) Kilcormac-Killoughey v St Rynagh's, Fergal Smyth.
Under-17 B HC Final
Rath (11:00) Na Fianna v Ferbane/Belmont, Shane Guinan.
Under-17 HC A Shield Final
Carrig (11:00) Coolderry v Birr, Sean Michael Maher.
Sunday, October 4
Under-13 Hurling Final
Birr (10:30) Kilcormac-Killoughey v Drumcullen/Seir Kieran, Adam Kinahan.
Tullamore Court Hotel Senior B FC Final
O'Connor Park (1pm) Durrow v Gracefield Eamon O'Connor.
Tullamore Court Hotel Senior FC Final
O'Connor Park (4pm) Rhode v Tullamore, Marius Stones.
Under-13 B Hurling Final
Ballinamere (10:30) Kinnitty Lusmagh v Clara, Sean Donoghue.
Under-13 A Hurling Shield Final
Clara (10:30) Tullamore v Na Fianna, John Sampson.
Under-13 B Hurling Shield Final
O'Brien Park (10:30) Gracefield v Ferbane/Belmont, Noel Cooney.
Monday, October 5
Under-15 A HC Shield Final
Ballinamere (7.30) Ballinamere/Durrow v Birr, John Longworth.
Tuesday, October 6
Tullamore Court Hotel Under-20 FC
Doon (8pm) Wheery v Tullamore, Fergal Smyth.
Rhode (8pm) Na Fianna v St Patrick's, Kevin Williamson; Tubber (8pm) Clara v St Manchan's, Martin Conroy; Pullough (8pm) Durrow v Kilcormac-Killoughey, Barry Buckley.
NOTE: Extra-time if necessary in adult county finals. Extra-time and W.O.T.D. if necessary in all underage finals and in U-20 FC games.