Nemo never in danger as Connolly shines

Despite dominating proceedings from the outset, defending champions Nemo Rangers were left clinging onto a two-point lead at the end of this City U21 football final in Ballinlough yesterday.

On a day when Nemo’s wastefulness in front of goal almost proved their undoing, Cork U21 panellist Luke Connolly showed his class with a contribution of 1-4.

While the scoreline suggests an even encounter, Nemo’s tally of 15 wides to Douglas’s four paints a more accurate picture of this final which should have been out of Douglas’ reach by half-time.

Nemo racked up a staggering 11 wides in a first half which saw them outplay their rivals who struggled to bypass the halfway line and had just two Sean Collins frees to their name at the changeover.

A stunning Conor O’Brien goal ignited the Douglas fight back in the second half but having proved their superiority in the first 30 minutes, Nemo never looked like letting their lead slip.

Alan Cronin broke the deadlock on nine minutes but parity was restored two minutes later with Collins slotting his first free of the afternoon.

Nemo were awarded a penalty on the quarter-hour mark when referee Mark Maher whistled for a foot-block against Douglas fullback Eric O’Connor who got in the way of Conor Horgan’s goal attempt.

Connolly blasted home the spot kick. Points from Horgan, Conor O’Donovan and Connolly saw the champions take a 1-4 to 0-2 lead into the break, a modest return for the possession they enjoyed.

Douglas raised their game after the interval but Nemo still looked comfortable and with 20 minutes remaining boasted a six-point lead.

But Douglas were handed a lifeline 42 minutes in when O’Brien rose to claim a high ball around the Nemo goalmouth and powered his shot into the top corner.

Douglas continued to match Nemo but couldn’t build on O’Brien’s score with Connolly stretching the lead to five points with a fine effort on 52 minutes.

A combination of Douglas urgency and Nemo fatigue ensured the teams were camped deep in Nemo territory for the closing stages but Douglas could only manage three late points.

Scorers for Nemo Rangers: L Connolly 1-4 (1pen, 1 45, 2fs), C O’Donovan 0-2, A Cronin, C Horgan and A O’Donovan 0-1 each.

Scorers for Douglas: C O’Brien 1-0, S Collins, A Cadogan 0-2fs each, J Khra (f), B Cuthbert, P Fitzgerald 0-1 each.

NEMO RANGERS: M Martin; D O’Donovan, C McElwhinny, S Cronin; J Garvin, G Irwin, K Fulignati; D Nation A O’Donovan; C Dalton, A Cronin, C Horgan; J Philpott, C O’Donovan, L Connolly.

Subs: D Abbott for C O’Donovan (59).

DOUGLAS: D Hanrahan; K Hayes-Curtin, E O’Connor, D Sheehan; M Lyons, J Davis, P Shine; C O’Brien, P Fitzgerald; M Carroll, E Mulrooney, B Cuthbert; S Collins, A Cadogan, J Khra.

Subs: O Bermingham for Collins (40), R White for Lyons (48), D Cuthbert for Carroll (54).

Referee: Mark Maher (St Finbarr’s).

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