Rhode held as Gracefield turn season around with big win

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Rhode held as Gracefield turn season around with big win thumbnail

ROUND 4 of the Tullamore Court Hotel Senior Football Championship provided a few talking points as Rhode almost relinquished one of Offaly's longest standing records while Gracefield recorded a huge win over Cappincur on Saturday evening to turn their season around after a shocking start to the campaign.
Unusally, Rhode are not top of the table after being held to a draw by Ferbane on Sunday afternoon and it is Edenderry who are out in front with full points from their four games - Rhode are on seven, Clara have six, Ferbane five, Tullamore 4, Gracefield two and Cappincur and Durrow have none.
With three rounds to play in the group stages, the championship is shaping up fairly predictably. Edenderry, Rhode, Clara, Ferbane and Tullamore will claim five of the six qualifying places on offer, though only Edenderry and Rhode are absolutely guaranteed to go through at the moment - the top two teams go into the semi-finals and the next four go into two quarter-finals with the bottom two meeting in a relegation play off.
It is actually the race for the sixth spot that is commanding most attention and excitement. It will boil down to Gracefield, Cappincur and Durrow but Gracefield took a huge step forward with a 2-14 to 1-14 win over Cappincur in Clonbullogue.
Cappincur have been very unlucky to date. They performed very well in their defeats by Rhode, Edenderry and Clara and they dominated the first half against Gracefield, despite the absence of three of their most important players, Eoin Carroll, Diarmuid Carroll and Ger Treacy. They led by 1-11 to 1-6 at half time and could have been further ahead but Gracefield played really well in the second half.
Cappincur just couldn't live with Niall Smith, Jamie Evans and Jack Walsh as Gracefield outscored them by 1-8 to 0-3 to win - Gracefield had been desperately poor in their defeats by Clara and Ferbane, though they improved substantially when losing to Edenderry and produced the goods when they needed to at the weekend while Cappincur are now immersed in the relegation dogfight.
Rhode received a major fright when they drew, 2-8 to 0-14 with Ferbane on Sunday. The champions and favourites have been unbeaten in the group stages since 2001 but Ferbane played very well after a second half malfunction in their preceding defeat by Tullamore. After a slow start, Ferbane recovered well to outplay their opponents and a famous win was within touching distance when they led by 0-13 to 1-6 inside the closing ten minutes.
With the winning post in sight, Ferbane lost their composure as sub Shane Lowry punched a crucial goal. Rhode edged in front before an injury time Joe Maher free gave Ferbane a deserved draw but this was a missed opportunity for them.
On Wednesday evening, Edenderry finally found their form in the second half to beat struggling Durrow by 0-15 to 1-5. Durrow produced their best display of a forgettable campaign and led by 1-5 to 0-5 early in the second half but with Cian Farrell outstanding, Edenderry knuckled down and powered home.
Clara had an excellent 2-14 to 1-12 win over Tullamore on Saturday. Clara laid the foundation with a fine first half display and their half time lead of 1-9 to 0-3 was enough of a cushion to hold off Tullamore's second half rally.
Round 5 takes place on the August bank holiday weekend with Gracefield playing Tullamore, Clara meeting Ferbane and Durrow taking on Cappincur on the Friday evening while Edenderry will host Rhode in a big celebration at the opening of their pitch on Saturday, August 4.



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