Two Offaly football heavyweights met in today’s county SFC final in Tullamore with Rhode pulling through to claim their 25th title, moving them within one of Tullamore on the honours list.
Clara only pointed once in the second half as Gerry Hickey’s men completely took over to seal a 0-16 to 1-6 success.
These clubs had won seven of the last nine Offaly deciders between them, and the early advantage was with Clara as Thomas Deehan’s 17th-minute goal put them 1-5 to 0-6 ahead at the break.
Deehan finished the first half with 1-4 while the bulk of the Rhode scores came from captain and talismanic forward Niall McNamee (0-5).
Rhode’s scoring power was a crucial factor in the second 30 minutes - they tallied up 14-82 in their previous six Championship matches - as Niall McNamee, ably assisted by Mark Dunne, Pascal Kellaghan and Conor McNamee, steered them home.
Meanwhile, Dingle claimed a glut of goals to qualify for their first Kerry SFC final since 1951, beating St. Kieran’s 4-5 to 0-14 at Austin Stack Park this afternoon.
Billy O’Connor has proven to be particularly prolific for Murt Moriarty’s men in recent weeks and today he took his tally to six goals in three games.
St. Kieran’s, last county finalists in 1998, played into the wind in the first half and scores from Tom McGoldrick and Eamon John O’Donoghue moved them 0-3 to 0-1 ahead.
But Dingle roared ahead with a succession of goals as Michael Geaney, Daithi Geaney (penalty) and Paul Geaney all found the net, producing a 3-1 to 0-5 turnaround for half-time.
McGoldrick had a penalty saved before the interval, however Kieran’s recovered well with Seamus Scanlon, O’Donoghue and James Walsh all having an influence.
Dingle though mustered a timely goal from O’Connor in the 52nd minute that helped them hold on for a famous three-point victory.
They will meet defending champions Dr. Crokes in the final in two weeks’ time. Croke qualified for that game courtesy of a 0-14 to 1-3 defeat of Laune Rangers in Tralee.
Crokes were wasteful in the first half, hitting nine wides, but closing points from Eoin Brosnan and Kerry captain Colm Cooper nudged them into a 0-5 to 1-1 lead for half-time.
Laune had hit the front early on as ex-Kingdom star Mike Frank Russell set up Shane McSweeney for the game’s only goal.
However, Crokes had the better of the second period as Cooper kicked the favourites clear, aided by a sterling performance at midfield from Johnny Buckley.
Jamie Clarke’s first-minute goal set Crossmaglen Rangers on their way to another Armagh SFC final triumph this afternoon.
Cross took the spoils against Pearse Og, winning by 3-9 to 0-11 as the reigning All-Ireland champions claimed their 16th county title in 17 years.
Clarke also netted late on to kill off any hopes of a comeback from Ogs, who had leaked a second goal to Tony Kernan on the stroke of half-time.
They were still in contention at the break, trailing by just 2-3 to 0-7 with Marc Cullen (0-3), Mark Clarke, Andy Mallon and Paul Duffy (0-2) hitting their points.
Anto Duffy made it a one-point game soon after the restart, but Cross clinched their victory courtesy of a further 1-1 from Clarke and Aaron Kernan also pointed in the dying minutes.
Meanwhile, a concerted second half push from Salthill-Knocknacarra saw them beat Tuam Stars by 0-12 to 0-7 to win their first Galway SFC title since 2005.
Tuam only scored two points in the closing 30 minutes at Pearse Stadium as they fell to their second successive county final defeat - Corofin got the better of them twelve months ago.
Sean Armstrong, a hugely influential figure for the victors, and Seamie Crowe shared out the final five points as Salthill cantered clear in difficult damp conditions.
Elsewhere, Tir Chonaill Gaels earned a record 14th London Championship crown with a 1-15 to 1-8 defeat of Kingdom Kerry Gaels in Ruislip.
Kevin McMenamin netted for Tir Chonaill in the 17th minute and they maintained control of proceedings, with Kingdom Kerry having their captain Kevin Waldron dismissed in the first half.
Longford Slashers and Emmet Og Killoe will have to meet again after their Longford SFC final clash ended 0-7 apiece at Pearse Park.
Slashers were angered when they felt referee Derek Fahy blew up early in injury-time just as Stephen Phillips was attacking inside the Killoe ‘45’.
Sean McCormack has stuck over a free to bring Emmet Og level before that, but it has been alleged that Fahy played only two-and-a-half minutes of the expected three.
Captain Paul Finlay turned in a man-of-the-match performance as he inspired Ballybay to their first Monaghan SFC title success in 25 years.
They ran out 1-12 to 2-5 winners over Clontibret in Clones today, despite Vinny Corey punching home his second goal late on for the runners-up. Ryan Wylie pointed after that to seal Ballybay’s victory.
The 3,621-strong crowd watched Colin Malone goal for Ballybay in the first period. They built a 1-5 to 0-3 interval lead and Hugh Malone, Christopher McGuinness and Finlay put them into an unassailable lead in the third quarter.
There were also county final wins for Eire Og in Carlow, they defeated Palatine by 10 points at Dr. Cullen Park, and St. Brigid’s in Roscommon.
Today’s 2-8 to 0-9 victory over Padraig Pearses in Kiltoom completed a three in-a-row for Brigid’s, for whom Frankie Dolan scored two goals and four points.
Tir Chonaill Gaels 1-15 Kingdom Kerry Gaels 1-8, Ruislip
Rhode 0-16 Clara 1-6, Tullamore
Longford Slashers 0-7 Emmet Og 0-7, Pearse Park
Crossmaglen Rangers 3-9 Pearse Og 0-11, Morgan Athletic Grounds
Tuam Stars 0-7 Salthill-Knocknacarra 0-12, Pearse Stadium
Eire Og 0-15 Palatine 0-5, Dr. Cullen Park
Ballybay 1-12 Clontibret 2-5, Clones
St. Brigid’s 2-8 Padraig Pearses 0-9, Kiltoom