Rhode edged out in tight contest

In a scrappy contest, Rhode's inability to find scores from play was their downfall as Meath champions Ratoath edged through this first round clash.

The Offaly champions only had two points from play in the contest and Ratoath did just about enough to secure a second round clash with Westmeath champions The Downs.

The statistics tell a story. Five Ratoath players scored from play; two managed the same feat for Rhode. In all eight players notched scores for the Meath champions; just three for their opponents.

This was a scrappy, messy encounter. It was hard hitting too and Ratoath could have paid a hefty price for some indiscipline but they didn't on this occasion. They survived to live another day. Eamonn Wallace's black card on 46 minutes was the punishment for a needless foul.

During his absence his team conceded the initiative. When he left the field Ratoath led by two when he arrived back their lead was only a point but the Offaly side were clearly in the ascendancy.

Rhode are experienced campaigners in Leinster but they are a considerably older team than Ratoath (the average age was said to be 32) and perhaps one of the reasons they fell away towards the end was because the legs simply started to lose some of their zip. Time and tide and all that.

Ratoath trailed 0-4 to 0-5 at the interval. They had loads of possession in that opening half, holding onto the ball very well, passing it from one to another, until an opening presented itself. All too often however, promising moves broke down.

Rhode relied greatly on the free-taking skills of their marquee player the prodigiously-talented Niall McNamee to keep them in the hunt.

He slotted over four points from frees in that opening moiety while Conor McNamee finished off a well-constructed move by scoring from play. A point up at the break the Faithful County side had reasons to be optimistic.

Aaron Kelleghan registered the opening point of the second-half to extend Rhode's lead but gradually the pace in the Ratoath camp began to tell. Wallace pointed for Ratoath, McNamee responded in kind before McGowan and then Jack Flynn (a free from off the ground) fired over with 37 minutes played to put Ratoath in front where they stayed..

The final 20 minutes or so were enthralling because you sensed anything could happen with McGowan, Cian O'Brien, Cian Rogers and McMahon all enhancing Ratoath's chances with scores.

Rhode remained within touching distance but they couldn't find that extra surge of energy they needed. There was plenty of tension in the closing minutes but Ratoath held on.


Ratoath - Daithi McGowan 0-3 one free; Eamonn Wallace 0-2; Keith McCabe 0-1; Jack Flynn 0-1 free; Cian Rogers 0-1; Bobby O'Brien 0-1; Cian O'Brien 0-1; Bryan McMahon 0-1 mark.

Rhode - Niall McNamee 0-7 frees; Conor McNamee 0-1; Aaron Keeleghan 0-1.


Ratoath - Darragh McPartlin; Ciaran O Ferraigh, Conor McGill, Ben Wyer; Brian Daly, Eamonn Wallace, Gavin McGowan; Daithi McGowan, Ben McGowan; Cian Rogers, Jack Flynn, Keith McCabe; Bobby O'Brien, Cian O'Brien, Bryan McMahon. Subs - Padraic Byrne for McCabe 51 mins, Andrew Gerrard for Daly 56m, Conor Rooney for B O'Brien 60m.

Rhode - Kenneth Darby; Gareth McNamee, Jake Kavanagh, James McPadden; Dylan Kavanagh, Brian Darby, Keith Murphy; Conor McNamee, Alan McNamee; Anton Sullivan, Ruairi McNamee, Ciaran Heavey; Paraic Sullivan, Aaron Keeleghan, Niall McNamee. Subs - Stephan Hannon for Sullivan half-time, Darren Garry for Heavey 38m, Shane Murphy for G McNamee 47m, Shane Sullivan for A McNamee 60m.

Referee - Seamus Mulhare (Laois).