Prior to this year, the only other time Nemo had to avail of the second chance was after a defeat by Ballincollig in 2006. On that occasion, they set in train a journey that would end with a county win as they beat Mallow 2-11 to 0-3, and at times it looked as if this game would pan out similarly as they played wonderful football.
Na Piarsaigh persevered, however, and pounced on Nemo lapses in concentration to eat into the lead without ever really looking as if they would mount a full-blown comeback. With 12 minutes of normal time left, Alan Cronin snr’s point put Nemo 2-18 to 0-8 ahead, but three goals in as many minutes from Na Piarsaigh served to heighten Nemo nerves.
First sub Stephen Glasgow fired home, then John Gardiner converted the rebound after Darren Farry saved his penalty and Pádraig Gould added a third after Cian O’Mahony found him. But late points from the impressive Luke Connolly settled Nemo.
Early on, it appeared Na Piarsaigh had neglected to read the script as they began with an intensity that caught Nemo cold, Gould knifing through to get the game’s first point inside 45 seconds, while Gardiner doubled the lead with a super point in the seventh minute. In between, Nemo had gone close, Connolly having a shot blocked by O’Mahony, and between the eighth and 13th minutes they opened up with a quickfire blitz that put them into a lead which they would never lose. Connolly opened their account with a point before he was found by Paul Kerrigan to allow him a close-range finish and James Masters (two), Dylan Mehigan and Alan Cronin snr all sent over points.
Corner-forward John Gardiner was the most dangerous attacker for Piarsaigh and he continued to threaten. However, during Nemo’s period of dominance, he went for goal, winning a good Alan Hogan pass only for Brian Twomey to take the pace off the shot, and then he reeled off three fine points to leave just a goal between the sides.
Whereas he was shouldering a lonesome burden, Nemo had far more scoring power and they would do all of the scoring for the remainder of the half, able to afford five poor wides such was their supremacy. After Barry O’Driscoll, at midfield, scored Nemo’s first score from a placed ball, they struck for a second goal David Niblock won the ball after a kickout and fed Kerrigan, who carried the ball and then took out three defenders with a lovely handpass to Masters, who gave Jamie Boland no chance.
Further points from Alan Cronin Snr, O’Driscoll and William Morgan – meaning all six of the starting forwards had scored – left nine in it at half-time, and the procession seemed set to continue as Niblock and Morgan again scored early in the second-half.
Again Na Piarsaigh responded, as, sandwiched between two more by Gardiner, was a solo effort from half-time sub Stephen Glasgow, who attempted to lob Nemo goalkeeper Darren Farry only for the ball to hit the top of the crossbar and go over. Another goal effort, from Gould, came back off the bar just before the three-quarter mark, but by then Nemo had reeled off five unanswered points to seemingly put the outcome beyond doubt. They did win to book their place in the last 16, but Na Piarsaigh can take heart ahead of a third-round clash with Ilen Rovers.
Scorers for Nemo Rangers: L Connolly 1-5 (0-2f), J Masters 1-3, Alan Cronin Snr, B O’Driscoll 0-3 each, P Kerrigan, W Morgan 0-2 each, D Mehigan, D Niblock 0-1 each.
Scorers for Na Piarsaigh: J Gardiner 1-7 (0-4f), S Glasgow, P Gould 1-1 each.
NEMO RANGERS: D Farry; K Fulignati, A O’Reilly, B Twomey; C O’Brien, P Hogan, Alan Cronin Jr; D Niblock, B O’Driscoll, D Mehigan, P Kerrigan, W Morgan; J Masters, L Connolly, Alan Cronin Sr.
Subs: A O’Donovan for Niblock (52).
NA PIARSAIGH: J Boland; A Brady, A Dennehy, C Hourigan; D Mannix, S Óg Ó hAilpín, C O’Mahony; M Prendergast, A Hogan; P Gould, T Lawton, A Keating; S Duggan, D Walsh, J Gardiner.
Subs: S Glasgow for Lawton (half-time), C Joyce for Hogan (38), E McCarthy for P Moran (48).
Referee: P O’Leary (Kilmurry).