Kevin McDermott, left, a star player in the win over Rhode with Oisin Cusack after last year's SFC "B" win - Cusack was injured against Rhode.
PREDICTIONS for the Tullamore Court Hotel Senior Football Championship were thrown up into the air as county champions Rhode went down to a shock opening defeat against Durrow in Tullamore on Saturday evening,
Tullamore Court Hotel Senior Football Championship group 2
A vastly understrength Rhode team may have been ripe for plucking but few expected last year's senior “B” champions Durrow to take their prize scalp.
The Durrow side, however, scented blood when they saw the Rhode team that took to the field, they carried the game to them, playing with great heart and drive and they fully deserved a win that gives them a great chance of making the quarter-finals – the top three teams in each group go into the knockout stages.
Rhode were very short on the evening due to a variety of reasons. Star forward Niall McNamee was missing as was his fellow county men, Nial Darby and Eoin Rigney along with U-20 star Aaron Kellaghan. Anton Sullivan only came on as a sub, registering 1-2 from a penalty, a “45” and a free as they fought desperately to salvage the game. Jake Kavanagh and James McPadden were also missing from the side that started in last year's county final win over Tullamore and even Rhode couldn't afford that volume of absentees.
This game confirmed what many people suspected – that Rhode are beatable without Niall McNamee but in fairness to them, they were missing too many first team regulars here and they will be expecting to get their season back on track and will be going all out for their next game against Cappincur.
It was a huge, unanticipated win for Durrow and it really sets them up for the season. They play Ferbane in their next game and with Cappincur up after this, a quarter-final place is now a very achievable target.
Durrow made a sensational start here and with Kevin McDermott (two) and Ross Ravenhill finding the net, they led by 3-3 to 0-1 after 25 minutes. A shell shocked Rhode were in very strange territory and they dug deep, getting it back to 3-4 to 1-3 at half time.
They fought hard in the second half and almost came back. Rhode trailed by 3-6 to 1-7 after forty minutes and 3-6 to 2-7 after fifty minutes. Both sides swopped two points apiece in the closing ten minutes as Durrow held on for a famous and deserved win.
Scorers – Durrow: Kevin McDermott 2-1, Ross Ravenhill 1-0, Barry O’Rorke, Ciaran Burke, Stephen Fitzgerald (1f), Jack Fogarty, Daniel Wyer, Terry Byrne and Brian Geraghty 0-1 each. Rhode: Darren Garry and Anton Sullivan (1 goal pen, 1 ’45, 1f) 1-2 each, Alan McNamee 0-2, Shane Lowry (1f), Ruairi McNamee (1f) and Gareth McNamee 0-1 each.
Durrow: Stephen Fitzgerald; Ross Ravenhill, Ciaran Burke, Mark Hughes; Michael McDermott, Gerry Spollen, David Magner; Bobby O’Dea, Brian Geraghty; Jack Fogarty, Kevin McDermott, Brian Duignan; Daniel Wyer, Barry O’Rorke, John Murphy. Subs: Alan Geoghegan for O’Rorke (40 min), Micheál Mooney for Duignan (40 min), Jack O’Brien for M McDermott (40 min), Darragh Wyer for Daniel Wyer (50 min), Terry Byrne for O’Dea (56 min, injured).
Rhode: Kenny Garry; Keith Murphy, Mossy Muldoon, Conor McNamee; Brian Darby, Gareth McNamee, Paul McPadden; Alan McNamee, Dylan Kavanagh; Darren Garry, Pauric Sullivan, Ciaran Heavey; Shane Lowry, Ruairi McNamee, Lorcan O’Reilly. Sub: Anton Sullivan for McPadden (15 min).
Referee – Fergal Smyth (Kilclonfert).
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