Rhode lay down marker with demolition job on Ferbane

RHODE scarcely got out of second gear on Sunday in O’Connor Park, but they didn’t need to as Ferbane offered precious little resistance in this senior championship group two fixture.

RHODE scarcely got out of second gear on Sunday in O’Connor Park, but they didn’t need to as Ferbane offered precious little resistance in this senior championship group two fixture.

Tullamore Court Hotel Offaly Senior Football Championship

Rhode 4-15

Ferbane 1-7

RHODE scarcely got out of second gear on Sunday in O’Connor Park, but they didn’t need to as Ferbane offered precious little resistance in this senior championship group two fixture.

Niall McNamee’s absence from the Rhode starting line up suggested that the 2010 county champions might be vulnerable to an upset, but Gerry Hickey’s men were never tested in this fixture and both individually and tactically, they held the upper hand in almost every sector of the field.

By the start of the second half only three of the Ferbane outfield starters were still lining out in the same position as they started the match and while they did muster up a bit more of an effort in the second thirty minutes, the demolition job that Rhode performed in the first half meant that their work was about nothing more than trying to minimise the effect on their scoring difference.

Ferbane had a great chance to start the game with a goal when a long ball into the square was broken by Declan Killian into the path of Aidan Keenaghan, but the former county player pulled his ground shot wide of the post. A point from each of the Darby brothers kicked off Rhode’s challenge and an Anton Sullivan free made it 0-3 to 0-0 after ten minutes.

A string of wides from Rhode meant that Ferbane were just about holding on to the coat-tails of the championship favourites, but defensively Rhode were absolutely dominant and the Ferbane forwards rarely got the chance to feel the weight of the ball in the early stages.

On fourteen minutes Rhode’s lead was doubled when they struck the first of their four goals. Mark Dunne seemed to be going for a point but his kick from forty metres out dropped just under the crossbar. Anton Sullivan showed great awareness of the square ball rule change and he contested the high ball with Shane Nally, who subsequently spilled the long delivery into the net.

Rhode pushed on from here and points from Niall Darby and Paul McPadden stretched their lead before Anton Sullivan got on the scoresheet when Nally deflected his goalbound shot over the bar.

Another mistake ended any lingering hopes Ferbane may have had with half time looming. Nally mishit a kickout straight at Paul McPadden and the corner forward cut in and slipped the ball underneath the Ferbane custodian. Leon Fox finally got Ferbane off the mark in response, but Rhode still held a commanding lead, 2-9 to 0-1, at half time.

Ferbane’s made a mini-surge at the start of the second half when Declan Killian struck a goal and two points to make the scoreboard look a little bit more respectable, but Rhode struck back with a goal of their own, Eoghan Byrne the scorer after Anton Sullivan outfielded Gerry Grehan and forced Shane Nally to advance and close him down.

The rest of the second half followed a distinct pattern – Ferbane winning more than their fair share of primary possession but failing to come up with a tactic more innovative than kicking it as hard as they could in the general direction of the opposition goals.

Rhode in turn were at their best when play broke down and their support play was exemplary, even though their handpassing still lacked the crispness that that they would hope to show by the Autumn.

Stephen Hannon scored his club’s fourth goal when he took advantage of Shane Nally’s position off his endline and lobbed it over him from fifty yards out, and only Hannon will ever know for certain whether or not he intended to go for goal, though it was only about adding gloss to the final score.

Ferbane will be disappointed that they conceded so much and for them the challenge will be to bounce back in the coming weeks and months.

Rhode, on the other hand, are clearly moving very well and while they will face tougher tests over the course of this championship campaign, the early signs are that they will have a huge say in the race for the Dowling Cup this year.

RHODE: Kenneth Garry; Declan Murphy, Eoin Rigney, James McPadden; Brian Darby (0-2), Shane Sullivan, Ciarán Heavey; Alan McNamee, Aidan Brereton; Niall Darby (0-3), Mark Dunne (1-0), Stephen Hannon (1-0); Paul McPadden (1-3), Eoghan Byrne (1-2), Anton Sullivan (0-5, 0-3f). Subs.: Niall Cole for Brereton, Carlos Flynn for N Darby, Jake Kavanagh for Murphy.

FERBANE: Shane Nally; Stephen Wren, Colin Egan, Gerry Grehan; Colm Gavin, Paddy Moore, Paddy Dooley; David Lowry, Ciarán McManus; Ronan Daly, John Mollen, Leon Fox (0-1); Aaron McDonagh, Declan Killian (1-3), Aidan Keenaghan (0-1). Sub: Joe Maher (0-1f) for Dooley, Brian Grehan (0-1)