Rhode 0-16 Tubber 2-4

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Rhode 0-16 Tubber 2-4

Postby Lone Shark » Mon Aug 20, 2007 5:29 am

2006 saw Tubber win the Offaly intermediate title and go on a glorious run in Leinster, eventually falling short in the final. After a fairytale comeback against Ferbane in their final group game of 2007, one could forgive Tubber supporters for beginning to believe that anything was possible for this bunch of players, even to the point of taking on a Rhode team that are long odds on favourites to secure a fourth successive Offaly senior football championship this September.

Being realistic, at no point in this game did it ever look like the upset was on the cards. Rhode played very fluidly throughout the first half and went into the break with a ten point advantage, and though they will be annoyed with the way they allowed Tubber to draw them into a scrap in the second half, it never looked likely that a forward line that didn’t raise a white flag between them were going to muster up enough scores to trouble Offaly’s footballing aristocrats.

Dreamers in the crowd will nonetheless look back on two vital moments in the second half that greatly damaged Tubber’s chances, one an instance of pure bad luck and the other utterly self-inflicted. The first was a missed call by Con Costello when a high ball into Tubber’s full forward line was cleared after Noel Browne was being blatantly held. A Tubber score then would have reduced the deficit to a goal with five minutes left, while instead Rhode swept down the field and Eddie Byrne took advantage of a lot of free space to chip over a score that all but sealed the win.

As to why he had so much space that late in a championship quarter final? Well that would be the self-inflicted swing moment. On 43 minutes corner back Brendan Heavin fouled Garret Hickey, and as Hickey ran away from the ball towards goal Heavin overtook him from behind and as he was doing so he swung his elbow into Hickey’s face, leaving Costello no option but to issue a straight red card. For such a long-standing player to sabotage his team’s chances with a violent act like that was nothing short of incredible, and considerable credit is due to his defensive team-mates for taking up the slack and keeping their net untouched for the rest of the game.

It was fifteen v fifteen throughout the first half, but the sheer class of Rhode was worth at least a couple of extra men as the champions played with a real swagger. David Kavanagh opened the scoring for Tubber, but with fifteen minutes gone Rhode had scored seven times, Niall Derby, Paschal Kelleghan and Niall McNamee five times with scores - two of which were beautiful points from play. Despite this, the best score of the opening spell came from Tubber as Ciarán McManus once again led his club from the front, scoring with a glorious 40m kick into the strong wind – as good a point as was scored all day.

Solitary moments of brilliance were scant use though in the face of Rhode’s swift and dextrous working of the ball out of defence and their telepathic link up play in the forwards. A great block from Lee Dunning denied Niall McNamee a goal after Kelleghan had found him with a good ball, but Niall soon returned the favour and Kelleghan had Rhode’s eighth point. Another McNamee goal attempt was blocked, but the scores kept coming. Four more flags were raised by the break leaving the intermission score at 0-12 to 0-2, with Tubber not even having had a wide ball to add to their meagre tally.

With wind advantage and their not inconsiderable pride to play for, it was always likely that Tubber would fight back in the second period. The conditions allowed them to put a lot more high ball in on top of Noel Browne, and after McManus had another great run and point, Browne could have cracked the game wide open when he had a goalbound attempt smothered by Mark Kavanagh. Kavanagh felt the effects of this close range blow for the next while and ended up being replaced, unable to continue.

On 42 minutes Paschal Kelleghan hit a wonderful point from a very tight angle out on the left before Tubber did get their breakthrough, Basil Cronin running in and laying off to Brian Kelly who finished well for the first goal of the match.

A minute later it was time for Brendan Heavin’s indiscretion, and as McNamee converted the resultant free it looked like game over for Tubber. Once again, the village dug in and they got a second goal, Noel Browne seizing the ball amidst a goalmouth skirmish and just about forcing his shot home. It wasn’t goal of the month type stuff, but when McManus hit his third point from play to reduce the deficit to four with 9 minutes left the crowd began to contemplate the implausible. After all, if the Ferbane game proved nothing else, it was that this Tubber team wasn’t going to stop giving it everything they had under any circumstances.

The difference was that against Ferbane, Tubber got that break of luck they deserved when Kevin McGuinness’ shot dipped under the crossbar – here, that break never came, and when Noel Browne didn’t get his free and Eddie Byrne got his score instead, the final nail was put in the coffin of Tubber’s glorious adventure. They did tarnish their glory a little further when substitute Joe Higgins was dismissed for a wild and dangerous off the ball kick on Hickey, but the more level headed of Tubber supporters in the crowd knew that the final tally of two red cards was if anything a little lenient, several of their players having spent most of the second half squaring up to Rhode players and trying to draw reactions. Players like Lee Dunning, the injured Aaron Farrell, James Guinan and above all Ciarán McManus can take great credit from this display, but ultimately it was just another one of those games when Rhode proved that they simply have way too much attacking firepower for most teams to handle. Shamrocks will bring a lot more defensive power and depth to the table in the upcoming semi-final, but right now it would be a brave man who would bet against the Village taking the 23rd county title.

Rhode – Mark Kavanagh; Joe Kilmurray, Shane Sullivan, Brian Darby; Declan Murphy, Barry Malone, Eoghan Byrne; Alan McNamee, Mark Cole; Niall Darby (0-1), David Hope (0-2), Glen O’Connell; Paschal Kelleghan (0-4), Niall McNamee (0-8, 0-4 frees), Garret Hickey.
Subs: Eddie Byrne (0-1) for Glen O’Connell, Ken Garry for Mark Kavanagh (inj.).

Tubber – Alan Kinahan; Brendan Heavin, Brian McManus, Lee Dunning; James Guinan, Michael Grennan, Aaron Farrell; David Kavanagh (0-1), Ciarán McManus (0-3); Michael Doolan, Eddie Kavanagh, Johnny Moran; Brian Kelly (1-0), Noel Browne (1-0), Kevin McGuinness.
Subs: Keith Higgins for Johnny Moran, Joe Higgins for Michael Doolan, Basil Cronin for Aaron Farrell (inj.)

Referee: Con Costello
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