The numbers don’t lie. Tradition is tradition and Nemo are Nemo.
Since a Barr’s footballer last held aloft the Andy Scannell Cup — Gene Desmond, 1985 — their opponents in Sunday’s Cork decider have won the county championship on 12 occasions.
From the St Finbarr’s team which started their recent semi-final win over Carbery Rangers, only Glen O’Connor, Michael Shields, Robert O’Mahony, and Roy Leahy have county final experience. And not the good kind, either.
This quartet was involved in the 2009 and ’10 finals, the Barrs losing out to Clonakilty and Nemo respectively.
On the Nemo side, all but four of the team which trounced Duhallow last time out have played on a county final winning team. Of the quartet who haven’t, Cork senior Stephen Cronin was injured for the 2015 drawn and replayed deciders, while Jack Horgan wasn’t long back in the country from his Erasmus year when that final arrived.
At the other end of the scale, you have Nemo centre-forward Paul Kerrigan who is chasing a seventh county medal. Colin O’Brien isn’t far behind him.
Nemo Rangers manager Larry Kavanagh was a selector in 2015 and recalls the pressure going into that final against Castlehaven given the club hadn’t reigned supreme in five years. It may pale in comparison with the 32 years the Barr’s are waiting, but in Trabeg country, five years is a long time.
Kavanagh knows there is an expectancy in the club to keep their county title haul ticking over this weekend.
“There’d be more pressure on this management if the gap was seven to our last county, as opposed to two,” he believes.
“I was only a selector in 2015, but I felt fierce pressure. The concern was that five years can become seven can become 10. Then you’re thinking, we’ll never win it because the Billy Morgans, Dinny Allens, and Derek Kavanaghs are gone.
"That we won two years ago, the pressure is slightly off. But we don’t like to lose county finals either.
“What is a help is that, outside the group, the fellas that you want would have your back. The big names, the likes of Billy Morgan, Dinny Allen, and Eddie Kirwan, they’ve all been there themselves and lost county finals as a manager.
"They text you to wish you luck. They’ll offer you a bit of advice. It might be one line over a pint, they might tell you to keep an eye out for this or that. There is all that experience to tap into here.”
The experience his players have racked up from being involved in the most important afternoon in Cork football is also a help.
“For a lad who has played in a county final, he’s not up half the night on Friday and Saturday fretting. If he was, we’d sub him off because we think we can sub off any player and put in a player who is equally as good. That goes right up to the Paul Kerrigans.
“Some lads might be a little nervous, but then you’re throwing Tomás Ó Sé into the mix. He brings his own dynamic to it. There is no-one standing up at the top of the dressing room giving a speech, rather it is a glance, a nod, a wink, a hand on the shoulder, ‘you’ll be alright kid’.
“You’d be hoping we have enough quality players and that we can get them into the important positions on the pitch. If it is a 17 or 18-year old, he might snatch at a shot on Sunday. If it is a 26-year-old in his third county final, he might take an extra second or an extra step and throw it over.
“You’d be hoping you’d have an edge there, but we have to match their hunger and desire. If you’re not matching that, all the experience in the world won’t count.”
On the injury front, it isn’t looking promising for Cork senior Barry O’Driscoll who pulled his hamstring against Duhallow a fortnight ago.
“I don’t think he’ll make it,” Kavanagh admits.
“We named the same team for Kiskeam, UCC and Duhallow and played the team as it was named on the programme each time. It is not our way to give a team for a programme and then put out a different one.
"We’ve named it without Barry for this weekend and put in Conor Horgan instead. If Barry comes to the pitch here on Saturday, runs a few lengths and says, he’s okay, we might start him, but I don’t see it happening.”
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