For much of this SFC fourth-round tie, Douglas looked set to make history. They led by 0-6 to no score inside 14 minutes and, while the black-carding of Eoin Cadogan knocked them out of their stride, they were still ahead by 0-7 to 0-5 at half-time.
A goal from half-time sub Eoin O’Sullivan within three minutes of the restart increased their cushion, but Nemo’s battling abilities saw them eat into the lead as the end neared, with corner-back David O’Donovan capping the fightback with the equaliser in the 57th minute.
“We’re delighted to get a draw,” said Nemo manager Steven O’Brien, “it didn’t look like we’d get it after 15 or 20 minutes.
“We were probably lucky to only be two points down at half-time but then they got the goal so it was backs to the wall all the way home. We hung in there until the 61st minute and we even had a couple of chances to win, whether we deserved it or not.”
Douglas manager Tony Leen agreed that his side could have been caught, as happened in the quarter-final against Nemo two years ago.
“I think they [Nemo] might be disappointed, they had two or three big chances to win it,” he said. “There’s no feeling of despondency in our group, that Nemo team has been in these last-10-minute situations a lot more than we have, so you can imagine how that experience is going to bring us on for the replay.”
The dismissal of Cadogan, for a foul on Cork team-mate Paul Kerrigan, was a key factor. “It was a huge turning point,” Leen said, “not just for play but psychologically.
“He is a leader, we had started exactly as we planned to do and you could see that setback rocked us and for 10 minutes we were rudderless, but we steadied again before half-time. You’d have to say it was a massive turning point.”
Up until then, Douglas had been in dreamland, with Cadogan’s brother Alan, Conor Kingston, Mark Dolan and Genie Griffin all among the scores as they amassed that six-point advantage. That they had five wides served to underline how much possession they were enjoying, with Nemo not registering a shot on goal until Kerrigan’s free went wide after the black card.
Alan O’Donovan’s point eventually got Nemo off the mark and James Masters had three quick scores as they set about making up for lost time — with Douglas goalkeeper Brian Boyle lucky not to follow Cadogan to the line, the netminder booked for a foul on Masters leading to the fourth point on 26.
Griffin’s long-range free ended Douglas’s 16-minute drought in the final minute of normal time, but a similar effort from Kerrigan reduced the gap to two again at the interval, when a melee broke out as they made their way off the pitch.
No direct action from referee Michael Collins accrued, and Nemo looked to have increased their momentum when Ciarán Dalton, introduced at the break, scored with his first touch.
However, O’Sullivan’s goal was an emphatic response from Douglas. He pounced when Nemo keeper Michael Martin couldn’t hold onto the ball after Alan Cadogan’s fisted point attempt dropped short, making it 1-7 to 0-6.
Frees from Kerrigan kept Nemo in touch but Douglas responded and the goal was the difference as the final quarter dawned, 1-9 to 0-9 the score. When Seán Powter jinked through for his second point, Douglas could sense victory but Nemo refused to give in.
Masters had a shot which crept just inside the post on 50, sub Michael Dorgan then got his hand to a Masters delivery, unlucky to goal, and Kerrigan got a super effort with six minutes left.
Some poor wides were leaving Douglas off, but the equaliser finally came when Barry O’Driscoll fed O’Donovan after winning a break and the latter did the needful.
O’Brien hopes now that Nemo can build on the strong finish in the replay.
“We haven’t played together probably since the first round and that’s three months ago.
“Were we caught in the first 20 minutes? We certainly were, they were at the pitch of the game and we weren’t. We didn’t duck our heads, we hung in and got the scores.”
A Cadogan 0-3, E O’Sullivan 1-0, G Griffin (frees), M Dolan, S Powter 0-2 each, C Kingston 0-1.
J Masters (one free), P Kerrigan (three frees) 0-4 each, A O’Donovan, B O’Driscoll, M Dorgan, C Dalton, D O’Donovan 0-1 each.
B Boyle; K Hayes-Curtin, K Flahive, S Fogarty; L O’Connell, J Collins, D McSweeney; E Cadogan, C Kingston; É Mulrooney, S Powter, J Lane; M Dolan, A Cadogan, G Griffin.
S O’Mahony for E Cadogan (17, black card), L McGrath for McSweeney (27), E O’Sullivan for Dolan (half-time), C Dineen for Mulrooney (39), M O’Callaghan for McGrath (57).
M Martin; A O’Reilly, C O’Shea, D O’Donovan; C O’Brien, A Cronin, S Martin; D Niblock, A O’Donovan; D Mehigan, P Kerrigan, W Morgan; J Masters, B O’Driscoll, C Horgan.
T Ó Sé for Morgan (24), C Dalton for Mehigan (half-time), S O’Brien for Horgan (41), M Dorgan for Niblock (51).
M Collins (Clonakilty).