Rhode 1-08 Tullamore 1-08
There was a dramatic end to the Offaly Senior Football Championship final in O'Connor Park today when Niall McNamee rescued champions Rhode from a devastating defeat.
McNamee struck a sensational goal with the four minutes of injury time almost up to give Rhode a second chance that they did not really deserve on the balance of play.
The result, however, was a tribute to the fortitude of Rhode, who had played with fourteen men after the 23rd minute. Their longest serving player Alan McNamee saw red for a heavy hit on Diarmuid Egan and it loaded the dice against Rhode.
The champions had been a point behind, 1-01 to 0-03 when McNamee got his marching orders. Aaron Leavy gave Tullamore a dream start with a third minute goal and once they settled, they were the better team.
After McNamee's dismissal, Rhode equalised through Aaron Kellaghan but Tullamore finished the half powerfully and points from Harry Plunkett, Luke Plunkett and Michael Brazil gave them a deserved 1-04 to 0-04 half time lead.
It was set up for a Tullamore win and they looked set to take their first title since 2013 when they led by 1-07 to 0-05 with 43 minutes gone. However, they became very defensive late on while mistakes crept into their game. Rhode got on top but still didn't convince, though a super Niall McNamee point got the gap back to two with seven minutes left.
A super point from Michael Brazil put Tullamore three in front and they looked set to hold on until McNamee struck with a great finish after a long ball in from Anton Sullivan.
It was an entertaining game, played in dreadful conditions and Offaly fixture-makers will decide on the replay tomorrow.
Tullamore: Corey White; Ciaran Burns, Declan Hogan, Paul McConway; Kevin O'Brien, John Furlong (0-01), Oisin Keenan-Martin; Michael Brazil (0-03), Aaron Leavy (1-00); Harry Plunkett (0-02), Diarmuid Egan, Ciaran Egan; Luke Egan, Luke Plunklett (0-01), Johnny Moloney.
Subs: Nigel Bracken (0-01) for Ciaran Egan (HT), Shane Dooley for Luke Plunkett (38).
Rhode: Ken Garry; James McPadden, Conor McNamee, Keith Murphy; Brian Darby, Dylan Kavanagh, Niall Darby; Alan McNamee, Anton Sullivan (0-01); Pauric Sullivan, Ruari McNamee, Ciaran Heavey; Darren Garry (0-01), Aaron Kellaghan (0-02), Niall McNamee (1-04, 3f).
Subs: Garrett McNamee for Pauric Sullivan (38), Glenn O'Connell for Heavey (44), Shane Sullivan for Kellaghan (52),
Referee: Marius Stones (Clara).