Those who don’t have one are probably in the minority. That’s no exaggeration. Just look at the frequency at which they’ve scored provincial success; four in the ’70s, four in the ’80s, one in the ’90s, five in the 2000s and one this decade, so far.
If you managed to work yourself onto a Nemo senior panel at some stage during the past 45 years, there’s a good chance you have a piece of Munster silverware somewhere around the house. Take current manager Larry Kavanagh as the perfect example. He was a used sub during the ’93 final win over Kilmurry Ibrickane and was corner-back on the three-in-a-row winning team from 2000-02.
There’s no member of the current side who can boast such a bountiful haul. Paul Kerrigan is top of the list with three (2005, ’07 and ’10), he being one of just four players to see game-time during the club’s most recent provincial success seven years ago.
Where there was collective satisfaction with the county championship win two years ago, a first for many of the panel, they’re looking towards higher peaks on this occasion. Irrespective of the opposition, there is an expectation that this group, at some point along the road, will deliver Munster glory.
“When we won the county in 2015, that was the be all and end all, because we had gone five years without winning it,” says Kavanagh.
“Munster involvement, on that occasion, was a bonus. Having won the county again this year, the county medal loses some of its importance. It is about sticking a Munster [medal] with it.
“What will be thrown at you is that Cork is bad and the level has gone down, but after winning the county, the next thing is to try and win Munster. It is a natural progression. For the Barr’s, if they had won the county, it would have been the be all and end all, because they haven’t won it since the ’80s, whereas, we had won it two years ago, so it wasn’t a major thing.
“The players do have to win a Munster. They know that themselves. They want to win a Munster. I don’t know do they feel the weight of [the club’s history] or do they feel the expectancy. They might be out for a pint and it could come up in a discussion that between 2000 and 2010, Nemo won Munster six times. They’re aware of it and they know they’ll be compared.”
They came desperately close two winters ago. Ahead by 0-9 to 0-7 with two minutes of injury-time run on the clock, Nemo Rangers were cruelly undone by a Michael Quinlivan goal for Clonmel Commercials. Kavanagh has never watched the game back.
Their recent Munster semi-final brought them back to Mallow for the first time since that one-point reverse. Having shipped 3-13 on the afternoon of the county final replay win over the Barrs, the job of the Nemo defence last time out was not to concede a goal.
Management hadn’t been a bit pleased with the “bad press” their defenders came in for after leaking three goals against the Barr’s and so the rearguard unit was set the task of keeping the green flag down at the umpire’s feet, of proving wrong their detractors.
They went much, much further. Adare managed only four points over the course of the hour, three of these arriving via the dead-ball. The concession of just one score from play is all the more impressive when you consider that two first-team regulars at the back, Cian McWhinney and Tomás Ó Sé, were unavailable.
“I thought they weren’t getting due recognition. A lot of correspondence you’d get was that 3-13 was a huge score to concede, which it was, but it wasn’t balanced with, ‘Jeez, 4-12 is a massive score to put up’. The backs have been good for us all this year and last. They’ll get an opportunity to show how good they are on Sunday,” said Kavanagh
“Generally, when you’re playing a club team, you have to mind two of their forwards. Here, you have to mind all six and, if one of theirs has an off day, they are bringing in Jordan Kiely or Tony Brosnan. Maybe, the key to it is midfield and stop the ball going up there. Johnny Buckley was excellent against Kilmurry Ibrickane. That’s a starting point.”