Beaten by holders Castlehaven after a replay in the opening round, Nemo were always strong favourites for this encounter. They did what they needed to, but not much more.
Trailing early on, goals from Alan Cronin Snr and David Nation ensured their progress would be pain-free, but manager Steven O’Brien left no room for ambiguity in his post-match analysis of the performance.
“Well, we won, that’s about it,” was the response when asked if there had been any particular positives.
“We’re delighted to be over it, we didn’t play well but this gets us off the mark. We were average at best. We fought hard but there were a lot of things which weren’t up to scratch, we made some bad decisions on the ball.
“It was always going to be a battle, we’d have taken a win by a point, but there’s an awful lot of work to do and we’re fully aware of that.
“The goal and a point just before half-time made us comfortable but our goalkeeper had to make some saves too. If Nick’s had got a goal it might have been tough, they showed that against the Barr’s in the first round.”
While all of the game’s 16 scores came from play, that stat was more down to poor place-kicking more than flowing football. Both sides missed a penalty in the first half and Nick’s suffered with frees all evening, despite a few different players having attempts.
When Nemo’s Barry O’Driscoll shot wide from the spot in the second minute and Evan Kearney then added to his opener to put Nick’s 0-2 to 0-0 ahead, a tricky evening looked in prospect for the Capwell side.
Once Alan Cronin Snr put them ahead with a 16th-minute goal, tapping home after O’Driscoll and Alan Morgan had helped the cut through the defence, they didn’t trail again, points in quick succession from Nation and Morgan giving them a cushion.
Dylan Mehigan then drew a save from Kieran McEnery, but after Barry O’Donovan got a third Nick’s point, they had a great chance to go ahead again after Kearney was fouled in the large rectangle.
His penalty was well saved by Darren Farry, however, and in the final minute of the first-half James Masters’ ball into the Nick’s goalmouth was parried by McEnery and Nation acrobatically half-volleyed to the net.
O’Driscoll’s point gave Nemo a 2-3 to 0-3 half-time advantage and he fisted over within a minute of the restart and Alan Cronin Snr added another, though not before Brian O’Regan made a great save on the line after Nicks’ Dean Brosnan’s shot beat Farry.
Tiernan Spain brought Nick’s back to within seven points in the 40th minute, but they would not score again until Kearney’s third of the game rounded off the scoring in dead time.
In between, Nemo lost Mehigan to a second yellow card but remained on top, Masters kicking a beauty of a point from well out on the right while Paul Kerrigan used his pace to good effect on more than one occasion.
The Cork star might have had a goal too but for good defending by Niall Horgan, but points from Luke Connolly, Alan Morgan and O’Driscoll ensured that there wouldn’t be any problems.
Bigger tests await, but Nemo are in the mix.
Scorers for Nemo Rangers: D Nation, Alan Cronin Snr (1-1 each), B O’Driscoll (0-3), A Morgan (0-2), L Connolly, J Masters (0-1 each).
Scorers for St Nicholas: E Kearney (0-3), B O’Donovan, T Spain (0-1 each).
NEMO RANGERS: D Farry; B O’Regan, S McKeown, Alan Cronin Jnr; C O’Brien, S Cronin, A O’Reilly; P Morgan, D Mehigan; D Nation, A Cronin Snr, P Kerrigan; J Masters, B O’Driscoll, A Morgan.
Subs: K Fulignati for O’Reilly (41), L Connolly for Masters (44), B Twomey for Alan Cronin Snr (55).
ST NICHOLAS: K McEnery; A Evans, T Spain, D Óg O’Donovan; C Spain, N Horgan, A Hosford; David Brosnan, R Brosnan; E Kearney, D Busteed, Dean Brosnan; B O’Donovan, P O’Brien, A O’Brien.
Subs: R McCarthy for O’Brien (39), C Byrnes for David Brosnan (58).
Referee: Conor Lane (Banteer).