Third final in-a-row for mighty Rangers

Nemo Rangers 1-11 Errigal Chiarain 0-11

It was primarily a testament to their superior play stemming initially from an early dominance at midfield which in turn stymied a surprisingly uninspiring challenge from Errigal Chiarain.

And, when the Tyrone side eventually got their game together, Nemo had sufficient in reserve to qualify for their third consecutive AIB All-Ireland club final and their tenth in total.

On the same ground where they drew with St. Vincents in their very first final 30 years ago (under the captaincy of Billy Morgan), the Cork side produced a polished display which was a tribute to their overall strength.

Current captain Colin Corkery was again a key figure at full-forward, but, like several others such as the highly influential Steven O'Brien at centre-forward, he was inspired by superb team play which reflected the thoroughness of their mental and physical preparations.

The fact that Nemo finished the first half three points in front after playing against a strong wind was indicative of the grip they exerted.

Over the course of the opening ten minutes the exchanges were fairly close until such time as Kevin Cahill and Derek Kavanagh, in particular, started to dominate the centre of the field. It meant that a very mobile and crafty forward unit received a plentiful supply of ball in attack and strong support play from the half-backs ensured their overall control. Here, Martin Cronin was a powerful figure on the right flank.

It was notable that Corkery wasn't able to take advantage of some early kicking opportunities, until a 13th minute free put them ahead after speedy William Morgan had cancelled out Mark Harte's lead point for Errigal Chiarain six minutes earlier. However, once he settled Corkery played a leading role, as did O'Brien (in his first start since the game with Kilmurry/Ibrickane) and Joe Kavanagh.

In contrast, the Ulster champions were far too dependant on Peter Canavan. In general, they were conceding possession in far too many areas to be a force. With Alan Cronin goaling in the 17th minute (from Steven O'Brien's pinpoint pass), Nemo gained a significant psychological advantage and it led to them consolidating their grip on the play until the closing five minutes when Canavan was much more involved. Three points in quick succession gave them a badly needed boost, but they still looked in trouble at the break trailing 1-5 to 0-5.

Dara Tierney, often promising for Errigal Chiarain except that he was expertly policed by Larry Kavanagh, kicked a fine point immediately after the resumption which raised hopes of a recovery. However, there was to be very little change in the trend of the game until the last quarter. In between, Kevin Cahill came into his own at midfield, with Mick Daly also to the forefront at left-half and Maurice McCarthy prominent at right half-forward.

As a result of their midfield grip, Nemo were able to build attacks from the back and the likes of Corkery and Joe Kavanagh thrived on the space they created.

At the three-quarters stage Nemo enjoyed a six points lead.

But, spearheaded by Peter Loughran's strong play at midfield, an overall improvement saw the Tyrone side storm back into the game only to be frustrated by an ability to capitalise on a few half-chances of goals.

Undeterred, they produced four points in a six-minute period to leave only two scores between the sides entering the last minute.

From a position of comfort a short time earlier, Nemo were suddenly under pressure to hold on to their advantage. Understandably, then, they were relieved to see Derek Kavanagh score in injury time and ensure victory.

*Gerry Kinneavy's refereeing wasn't the best. It was spoiled by inconsistency in penalising foul play and by overlooking some obvious frees.

Scorers for Nemo Rangers C. Corkery 0-5 (0-4 frees); A. Cronin 1-0; D. Kavanagh 0-2; W. Morgan, K. Cahill, Steven O'Brien and J. Kavanagh 0-1 each.

Errigal Chiarain: Peter Canavan 0-4 (0-3 frees); M. Harte 0-3 frees; D. Tierney 0-2; P. Loughran and E. Gormley 0-1 each.

NEMO RANGERS: D. Heaphy; L. Kavanagh, N. Geary, Sean O'Brien; M. Cronin, M. Daly, G. Murphy; K. Cahill, D. Kavanagh; M. McCarthy, S. O'Brien, A. Cronin; J. Kavanagh, C. Corkery (capt.), W. Morgan.

Sub: D. Mehigan for McCarthy (55th minute).

ERRIGAL CHIARAIN: J. Devine; B. O'Donnell, C. McGinley, D. Neill; E. McGinley, P. Horisk, D. Harte; Pascal Canavan, P. Loughran; E. McGinley, M. Harte, E. Gormley (capt.); R. McCann, Peter Canavan, D. Tierney.

Referee: G. Kinneavy (Roscommon).

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