When the chips are down, they rarely surrender, their battling qualities always a worry for any opposition. Newcestown, masters for much of a sloppy and sometimes ill-tempered Evening Echo Cork Co Premier IFC quarter-final clash at Ballinhassig on Saturday, looked home and dry deep into injury-time. And deservedly so for the way they mastered the city kingpins at their own game.
But they took their eye off the ball and a semi-final spot went abegging. Four points down and minus the services of corner-back Leonard McCarthy, who got a straight red, Nemo refused to buckle as a cracking goal from last year’s minor captain Colin O’Brien and a last gasp free from Willie Morgan earned them a replay that left Newcestown shattered.
No question a far from riveting contest up to this was saved as a spectacle by Nemo’s swashbuckling finish. Despite an outstanding centre-back display from the evergreen Jim O’Sullivan, ably assisted by his flankers Kevin Long and Brian Moloney, and some surging runs by the menacing Cathrach Keane, who was involved in both their goals, Newcestown failed to put Nemo away and ultimately were punished.
The Trabeg side led 0-2 to 0-1 after the opening quarter, courtesy of points from Joe Kavanagh and Willie Morgan, after the tasty Tadgh Twomey had put Newcestown ahead. But it was sloppy stuff in the main, too many moves breaking down with some poor final deliveries.
And the second quarter wasn’t much better. Pádraig Condon and John Paul O’Neill exchanged points, but it did take a terrific save by Nemo keeper Brian Morgan to deny Condon a goal in the 26th minute. However, Keane – who had missed three earlier chances – put Newcestown 0-4 to 0-3 clear at the break.
Nemo weren’t playing well, closed down by a no-nonsense Newcestown defence. A very subdued Alan Cronin moved to centre-forward for the second-half and when Willie Morgan levelled the scores with a free in the 33rd minute it was still game on. O’Sullivan was magnificent in the heart of the Newcestown rearguard and just a minute later a surging run by Keane cut the Nemo defence apart and when his shot came back off the crossbar, full-forward Condon was in like a flash to put the ball in the net. Ten minutes later Keane, who was giving Paul Brophy a torrid time, was at it again. Another tremendous run saw him being upended. Brian O’Mahony’s penalty was saved by Morgan, but the wing forward made no mistake with the rebound as the Carbery men led 2-4 to 0-5 entering the final quarter.
Referee Sean Collins was a busy man for the final minutes as matters began to get a little steamy. McCarthy was sent off in the 53rd minute but from this juncture Nemo showed their mettle. Michael Kearney pointed a free, Willie Morgan another, then Cronin followed from play. But with the deficit still at four points, 2-6 to 0-8, two minutes into injury time, it was still odds on Newcestown. But then came that cracker from O’Brien and Morgan’s equaliser, after quick thinking by Kavanagh, and it was replay time again for Nemo.
: Newcestown: P. Condon 1-2, B. O’Mahony 1-0, T. Twomey, C. Keane (0-1 ‘45, 0-1 free) 0-2 each. Nemo Rangers: C. O’Brien 1-0, W. Morgan 0-3 (frees), M. Kearney 0-2 (frees), J. Kavanagh, E. Weldon, J. P. O’Neill A. Cronin 0-1 each.
: P. White; James Crowley, John Crowley, D. Collins; K. Long, J. O’Sullivan, B. Moloney; C. Keane, J. Wilson; B. O’Mahony, P. Moloney, D. Heffernan; C. O’Donovan, P. Condon, T. Twomey. Sub: T. Ryan for Keane.
: B. Morgan; L. McCarthy, R. Murphy, I. Gibbons; C. O’Brien, P. Brophy, E. Weldon; S. Twomey, P. Morgan; P. O’Shea, J. P. O’Neill, A. Cronin; W. Morgan, J. Kavanagh, M. Kearney.
:C. Allen for O’Shea, G. Cummins for O’Neill.
: S. Collins (Carrigaline).