Classy McNamee leads the way for Offaly's Rhode as both O'Rourkes sent off in narrow defeat
Rhode 1-12 Simonstown 1-9 Leinster Club SFC Quarter-Final
It wasn't perhaps as commanding as expected, but Rhode edged a little closer to a fifth Leinster club SFC final in a decade by beating Simonstown Gaels by 1-12 to 1-9 in Tullamore yesterday.
But for the sending off of Shane O'Rourke for a second yellow card in the 39th minute, the Meath champions might even have pulled off a shock.
"It was a big turning point," reckoned his father and manager, Colm O'Rourke, who was also sent from the line by referee Patrick Maguire in the first half of a match Simonstown were fully in until the very end.
"But they were on top at that point anyway. And it sometimes turns like that. Fourteen men throwing all caution to the wind and starting to play.
"I did think at times in the first half that a couple of our players were fouled and the referee didn't agree with me, funny enough."
His team started each half well and in centre-back Brian Conlon, have a powerful ball-carrier and a possible Meath star of the future but in truth, Rhode's classier attack was the fundamental difference.
Niall McNamee scored four points from play and a free in a performance befitting his vaunted reputation.
Conor McNamee kicked 1-1 and caused sporadic havoc whenever he wandered towards the Simonstown goals.
But it was tense, nonetheless.
Late on, after Éanna Donoghue had put Simonstown back within swinging distance with a penalty, O'Rourke brought on Conor Nash, who flies to Australia tomorrow to begin a career in the AFL.
"The Hawthorn club weren't anxious for him to play," he explained.
"He's under contract with them to the first of November, so he was under a bit of pressure from them and in fairness we respected their views and we respected his view.
"He did say that if the game was still in the balance in the last ten minutes that maybe he'd come on, maybe he's too honest for his own good."
Rhode go to Drogheda now to play Seán O'Mahony's in their semi-final.
"Sure, it's another challenge and if we can get over them we'll have a crack at whoever," reflected Paschal Kelleghan. "The next one is a massive game, massive game."
SCORERS - Rhode: N McNamee 0-5 (1f), C McNamee 1-1, D Garry 0-2, B Darby, A Sullivan, N Darby, P McPadden (f) 0-1 each. Simonstown: S Tobin 0-5 (2f), E Donoghue 1-0 (pen), P McKeever 0-2 (1f), J Lyons, M Brennan ('45') 0-1 each.
RHODE: K Garry; B Darby, E Rigney, J Kavanagh; N Darby, S Sullivan, J McFadden; A McNamee, C McNamee; S Hannon, P Sullivan, A Sullivan; P McFadden, R McNamee, N McNamee. Subs: B McGrath for M O'Rourke (ht), M Brennan for Lyons (42), C Heavey for N Darby (58), G McNamee for R McNamee (63)
SIMONSTOWN: R Burlingham; S Gallagher, N McMahon, S Moran; M O'Rourke, B Conlon, N Kane; S O'Rourke, C Sheridan; J Lyons, S Kenny, M McCabe; P McKeever, D Tobin, E Donoghue. Subs: B McGrath for M O'Rourke (ht), M Brennan for Lyons (42), S Barry for Sheridan (53), C Nash for Kenny (56)
REF: P Maguire (Longford).