Rhode’s Ruairi McNamee gets his shot away with Ferbane’s David Nally closing in to challenge during last Saturday’s Offaly SFC semi-final. Photo: Ger Rogers.

Another Rhode vs Tullamore final lies in wait

By Kevin Egan

If the above heading suggests a note of disappointment, then that’s as intended – and not just because this writer would obviously have preferred to see his home club Ferbane get back to the county final.

Coming into the semi-finals, Tullamore looked like they were that bit in front of the rest, and on foot of last weekend’s action, it’s very hard to make a solid case for Rhode on Sunday week, particularly if Anton Sullivan is unable to take part.

Ferbane did a lot right last Saturday evening, restricting Niall and Ruairí McNamee to minor roles and winning a lot of possession, but their use of the ball wasn’t good, and ultimately neither team had any real cause for complaint or grievance when the game went to penalties.

Enter Ken Garry to play the role of the hero, saving three penalties and scoring his own, but it wasn’t the type of performance that would suggest that Rhode are ready to derail a well-oiled Tullamore machine.

Edenderry did a decent job of containing the Blues for long periods, but ultimately they didn’t have the firepower to put enough scores on the board, and outside of Seán Doyle, they never looked like breaking down Niall Stack’s well-drilled defence.

Add the presence of the TG4 cameras to a lack of novelty, and we could be set for a poorly-attended final. Hopefully there will be some positive news with regard to Sullivan’s injury in the next few days, which could be something of a leveller. After all, if Rhode can go close, they certainly won’t lack for nerve in a tight finish.

Of the other final clashes that were lined up, Bracknagh were far from impressive for 60 minutes against Walsh Island but finally found their groove in extra-time, and unless Keith O’Neill is back to full strength for the Senior B final, they’ll be fancied to prevail against Clonbullogue.

Raheen were more impressive than Ballycommon in the two intermediate semi-finals and Richie Dalton’s side look to have a lot of their ducks in a row at that grade.

Kilcormac-Killoughey remain the clear favourites at junior level, albeit Ballinagar keep marching on and now have the option of bringing home some stars from foreign shores to bolster their cause in the decider, so this game also looks like one worth watching closely.