Stephen Barry picks out three potentially key match-ups as Nemo Rangers bid to gain revenge in Sunday's Munster Club SFC final against Clonmel Commercials.
Nemo Rangers’ top scorer was a half-time substitute in the 2015 final, but will lead the line on Sunday.
If Paul O’Donovan decides to deploy him at full-forward, as he did for the Cork final where Connolly plundered two goals, then he’ll be a big test for an all-new Commercials full-back line from four years ago, led by Liam Ryan, between Danny Madigan and Cathal McGeever, with goalie Michael O’Reilly. In the season for low-scoring football, a trademark Connolly goal could be the difference.
Seamus Kennedy’s first game may be hurling, but he’s just as proficient with the big ball.
He will be expected to lead Clonmel around the central exchanges if they are to produce another shock against Nemo, whether from centre-back or midfield.
Paul Kerrigan scored five points from play as Nemo racked up 2-17 without so much as the need for a free kick against Austin Stacks, but Clonmel can choose between the powerful Kennedy or Kevin Fahey for the role of tracking Nemo’s man in form.
Kerrigan scored three from play and came close with two goal chances against Commercials in 2015, when Fahey was tasked with the role.
For added intrigue, both of the Tipp men carry a threat on the counter too, with Kennedy scoring four crucial points as Loughmore took them to extra time in the Tipp semi, with Fahey adding 0-3 in the final.
Nemo need no reminding of the Clonmel sharpshooter’s aerial prowess.
He won the high ball to slot that dramatic winning goal in the 2015 final and could well line up on the edge of the square for a repeat performance.
Aidan O’Reilly would be the obvious choice to reacquaint himself with Quinlivan, but Charlie McGeever could also mix it up by playing their targetman further out the field, as they did against Miltown in the semi-final, to provide another midfield option and try to limit the movement of an attacking Nemo half-back line that scored 1-4 against Austin Stacks.
Should they do so, Stephen Cronin would be the choice to track Quinlivan. Either way, Clonmel need to do something to upset a Nemo defence which hasn’t conceded more than 10 scores in any game this season.