Nemo excelled, once again, in defence and their continuous hounding of their opponents starved Éire Óg of shooting opportunities throughout.
The one downside for Ephie Fitzgerald’s side was the red card Alan Cronin received on 44 minutes for kicking out at Mark Kelly. Cronin will now miss Nemo’s semi-final clash with Dr Crokes on Sunday week.
“I thought we dominated the game from start to finish,” said Fitzgerald. “The scoreline didn’t reflect our dominance. The sending off of Alan puts a bit of downer on it. There was a kick back (from Alan) and there is always a likelihood that you’re going to get sent off. I thought some of their tackling in the second half was out of order. I think Alan’s was borne out of frustration more than anything else.”
Cronin isn’t Fitzgerald’s sole concern. “David Niblock will still be in States and Niall Geary just got married but we’ve a big panel and we won’t use that as an excuse. We’ll get on with it. I’m sure we’ll be up for the Crokes.”
For once the game did not centre entirely around James Masters, who got little change off Éire Óg’s best player Alan Malone but still ended Nemo’s top scorer.
Martin Cronin was impressive again, popping up in defence, midfield and attack where he arced over two fine points.
Nemo controlled possession from the first minute and had the Clare champions in a spin with their quick ball movement and superb support play. Masters landed his only point in the third minute after good approach work from Ricky Kenny and Sean O’Brien. Martin Cronin pointed in the seventh minute and the signs for Éire Óg looked ominous.
In the 13th minute a speculative ball from Masters was tipped down into the square by Sean O’Brien, and Donie Lyne was adjudged to have played the ball on the ground with his hand. The ref awarded Nemo a penalty and Masters strike smacked off the crossbar, but rebounded into his arms and he made no mistake from close range.
Alan Cronin, Paul Kerrigan and Dylan Mehigan added three more points, though Éire Óg’s Shane Daniels landed a free before the break to leave it stand 1-5 to 0-1 at the interval.
Stephen Hickey added Éire Óg’s second on 36 minutes but Nemo’s Martin Cronin then fired a delightful point in the 43rd minute before brother Alan was red-carded a minute later.
Points from Kavanagh (free), and substitutes Alan Morgan and Mick Daly made it 1-9 to 0-2 on 59 minutes. Éire Óg were awarded a penalty in injury time as former Clare hurler Stephen McNamara was felled. But Hickey blazed his spot-kick over.
Nemo: J Masters 1-1; M Cronin 0-2; A Cronin, D Mehigan, P Kerrigan, D Kavanagh (free), A Morgan and M Daly 0-1 each. Éire Óg: S Hickey 0-2 (0-1 free; 0-1 pen); S Daniels 0-1 (free).
D Heaphy; C O’Shea, G O’Shea, P Brophy; B Twomey, D Kavanagh, G Murphy; M McCarthy, D Mehigan; R Kenny, A Cronin, M Cronin; J Masters, S O’Brien, P Kerrigan.
A Morgan for Kerrigan (46); J Kerins for Kenny and D Kearney for Masters (both 52); S Twomey for Brophy and M Daly for Murphy (both 54).
L Keane; A Malone, D Lyne, M O’Regan; N Hogan, C Healy, D Russell; B Frawley, P Cosgrove; B Fitzpatrick, C Shannon, S Daniels; S O’Mara, S Hickey, M Kelly.
E Glynn for Fitzpatrick (26); B Lenihan for Frawley (ht); R O’Brien for Healy (49); S McNamara for O’Mara (52); D Ryan for Shannon (60).
M Meade (Limerick).