Ferbane and Tullamore win tight battles to set up final clash
Rhode's incredible run of consecutive appearances in Offaly Senior Football Championship finals was finally ended by their semi-final defeat to Ferbane last Saturday.
Bidding to reach their 12th successive final, last year's champions Rhode lost out to Ferbane but it required extra-time to decide the issue (final score: 0-20 to 1-4, AET).
The last time Rhode did not contest the senior final was back in 2011, when Edenderry edged out Clara in the decider.
With Niall McNamee having scored their goal, Rhode led by four points around the 50-minute mark in Tullamore on Saturday last and, at that stage, they looked set for yet another county final. But Ger Rafferty's Ferbane charges finished strongly to force extra-time on a scoreline of 0-16 to 1-13.
Ferbane had to survive the awarding of a penalty to Rhode in extra-time, with Anton Sullivan off target from the spot. But Ferbane surely deserved whatever bit of good fortune came their way, considering the cruel luck they have endured in penalty shoot-outs over recent years.
Joe Maher (0-6, 5 frees), Darragh Flynn (0-4, 2 frees), Jack Clancy and Cian Johnson (0-2 each) led the way in the scoring stakes for Ferbane in what was a famous win.
In this year's other semi-final, played yesterday (Sunday), Tullamore claimed a one-point victory over Edenderry (1-13 to 1-12). Harry Plunkett scored the winning point from a stoppage-time free; indeed, Plunkett contributed Tullamore's last three points from frees.
The Blues' goal came from an Aaron Leavy penalty early in the second half but inspired by the scoring prowess of Cian Farrell and a goal from Sean Doyle, Edenderry threatened to pull off a surprise win.
The otherwise excellent Farrell did miss a penalty in the last ten minutes which proved crucial in such a tight game.
Having struggled to find their best form, Tullamore showed composure in the tense closing stages to eke out victory.
Tullamore, last year's defeated finalists, and Ferbane are now preparing to do battle in the Offaly SFC final which will be played on Sunday, September 24.
It will be Tullamore's fourth final in a row, with the Blues having lost the 2022 and 2020 deciders to Rhode and winning the final in between (after a replay) against the same opponents. For their part, Ferbane last lifted the Dowling Cup in 2019.