Gift goal puts Nemo on road to glory

Nemo Rangers 1-11 Dohenys 0-7

WE can only speculate what might have happened in yesterday’s Evening Echo Cork SFC final in Pairc Ui Chaoimh if Nemo Rangers hadn’t been gifted a 12th minute goal and Dohenys hadn’t missed two later chances of putting the ball in the net. But nobody could deny that the city side played the cleverer football and that James Masters’ class helped them to their 15th title.

The only consolation for Dohenys was they showed commendable spirit in challenging strongly; a fact acknowledged by their supporters in the way they clapped them off the field at the finish. However, while there was a slim hope of a recovery up to the three-quarter stage, the door was shut in their face after the first of three Masters points in the 47th minute.

That particular score highlighted the essential difference between the sides and showed why Nemo were able to repeat their victory of 1975, when they won their third title three years after making the breakthrough. Seven All-Ireland titles and a further 12 county championships later, they remain one of the most formidable club combinations in the country.

It was clear early on that Dohenys had the confidence to take Nemo on and only two points separated the sides by the 11th minute, after impressive centre-back Michael O’Donovan had kicked their opening score. Then came the goal, when a kick from O’Brien bounced off ‘keeper Darragh Farr’s chest as he ran to meet the ball and Masters gathered and score.

It was a bitter blow as it opened up a five-point gap and it was what separated the sides until the last ten minutes, when Nemo coasted to victory.

Frustratingly for him, Gerard McCarthy saw a powerful shot come back off the crossbar around this time too.

That chance and others were the result of strong play in defence and their tactic of breaking the ball at midfield. However, Nemo were more vigilant in picking up loose possession.

Dohenys’ cause was not helped by their inability at times to translate good approach work into scores;: there were times when they over-carried instead of being more direct, and it hurt them!

At the break it was 1-6 to 0-4. Five minutes into the second half the margin was back to a goal after Daniel O’Donovan kicked his best point 12 seconds after the resumption. The competition’s top scorer, Gerard McCarthy, then put over a free but the momentum was broken when Patrick McCarthy spoiled some very good work with two wides.

While Nemo were maintaining a strong challenge, they were again conceding possession around midfield until Martin Cronin began to gain a grip and Derek Kavanagh started to defend more solidly at centre-back. Gary Murphy was again to the forefront and Mehigan continued to be effective. Nevertheless, Dohenys’ difficulties in getting scores helped protect the champions’ advantage.

When it mattered most, however, they showed that they had the capacity to create openings more easily — as when Martin Cronin picked out his brother Alan in the 43rd minute and an important score resulted. Likewise, after another Gerard McCarthy free (which once more left a goal between them), Masters produced a terrific score. And, while it wasn’t evident at the time, it marked the beginning of the end for Dohenys’ title hopes.

Masters, a deserved choice of the man-of-the-match award kicked an even better score four minutes later, then added a free before Paul Kerrigan had the reward of the last score of the game. By then Nemo were in control of the game and victory as good as guaranteed.

*John Geaney refereed the game with his usual authority and efficiency, confining mistakes to the minimum. Disappointingly, he missed a nasty challenge by a Dohenys defender on Masters (as he lay on the ground after being fouled), when he booked the wrong player!

Scorers for Nemo Rangers: J. Masters 1-6 (0-2 frees); A. Cronin 0-2; D. Mehigan, D. Niblock and P. Kerrigan 0-1 each.

Scorers for Dohenys: G. McCarthy 0-3 frees; D. O’Donovan 0-2; M. O’Donovan and T. O’Donovan 0-1 each.

NEMO RANGERS: D. Heaphy; C. O’Shea, N. Geary, P. Brophy; G. Murphy, D. Kavanagh, B. Twomey; D. Niblock, M. Cronin (c); R. Kenny, A. Cronin, D. Niblock; J. Masters, S. O’Brien, A. Morgan.

Subs: M. McCarthy for Morgan (second half); P. Kerrigan for Kenny (41); G. O’Shea for Twomey (49); J. Kerins for Niblock (55).

DOHENYS: D. Farr; A. Murray, P. Deane, C. Collins; T. O’Donovan, M. O’Donovan, N. Hurley; M. Farr, P. Collins; P. McCarthy, S. Farr, J.B. Collins; D. Healy, D. O’Donovan, G. McCarthy.

Subs: S. Collins for J.B. Collins (33); D. Lyons for Hurley (51).

Referee: J. Geaney.