Nemo Rangers and St Finbarr’s will have to do it all again after the latter hauled back a seven-point second-half deficit in the Cork SFC decider, writesfrom Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
When Barry O’Driscoll and Ciaran Dalton kicked two of the opening three scores in the second period, Nemo led 0-12 to 0-5 after 33 minutes and were looking good for a 20th county title.
Rather crucially, though, they would not score again until the 51st minute, by which juncture the Barrs had slotted five on the bounce to pare the margin to two.
Alan O’Donovan’s point to end the Nemo barren spell made it 0-13 to 0-10. The Barrs continued to push forward and with Ian Maguire superb at midfield, they exerted considerable pressure on the opposition defence. A Stephen Sherlock free again brought it back to two, although this was cancelled out by a fine Ciaran Dalton score.
Sherlock’s sixth free and first from play left one between the sides on 58 minutes. Sam Ryan subsequently stopped an excellent Nemo goal opportunity and they fashioned a replay through Sherlock 18 seconds into injury-time.
Nemo kicked the opening eight scores of this contest and were fully deserving of their 0-10 to 0-4 interval lead. The familiarity with county final afternoon rang true in the opening exchanges as they landed score after score with relative ease, while their opponents, many of whom were appearing in their first Cork SFC decider, were unsure of themselves, with no one Barrs player able to assert themselves in the opening quarter.
Luke Connolly kicked Nemo’s opening score, via the dead ball, with 56 seconds of the throw-in. There followed points from Paddy Gumley, Paul Kerrigan, Connolly (0-3, 0-1 free), Jack Horgan and Barry O’Driscoll. Come the 17th minute, the favourites were 0-8 to 0-0 to the good.
At the other end, Stephen Sherlock was off target with his first shot, while the next two dropped into the goalkeeper’s hands. Robert O’Mahony also kicked wide before Sherlock had them off the mark with a 20th minute free. They’d add two more in the next minute, Cillian Myers Murray and Ian Maguire the providers. Still, they faced a very difficult task when turning around for the second period.
It is to their credit that they were up for the challenge.
We go again, presumably next week.
There is that more than nagging feeling that Nemo Rangers should have closed out the deal when leading by 0-12 to 0-5 early in the second period. On the other side of the equation are the three minutes of second-half stoppages when St Finbarr’s, now back on level terms, owned possession in the Nemo half of the field. Were you calling a winner at that stage, it was St Finbarr’s all the way.
"When they took over, they seemed to take over en-block. We hung in there and we got out of there. We don’t know whether we are still happy or whether we are sad that we left it behind us. Look, any other team would take it. We’ve got another county final to play in. They had the ball for two or three minutes at the end and if they had got an opportunity, it could have been curtains for us, so, in that sense, we are relieved,” said Nemo manager Larry Kavanagh.
“Credit to our backs, they kept pushing them and pushing them [out the field]. They needed to get it to Stephen Sherlock, they didn’t. They may have tried to manufacture a free, but our crowd were very, very disciplined. We turned it over, I thought we might get one opportunity up the other end of the field. We didn’t.
Kavanagh added: “You dream of being seven points up five minutes into the second-half of a county final. That’s the stuff of dreams. We just didn’t push it home. We had a couple of bad wides and there was the goal opportunity at the finish which the Barrs defender did very well to prevent.”
Scorers for Nemo Rangers: L Connolly (0-4, 0-2 free); C O'Brien, B O'Driscoll, P Gumley (0-2 each); A O'Donovan, J Horgan, P Kerigan, C Dalton (0-1 each).
Scorers for St Finbarr’s: S Sherlock (0-8, 0-6 frees); D O'Brien, C Lyons (0-2 each); I Maguire, C Myers-Murray (0-1 each).
Nemo Rangers: MA Martin; A O’Reilly, C McWhinney, A Cronin; T Ó Sé, S Cronin, K Fulignati; A O’Donovan, J Horgan; B O’Driscoll, P Kerrigan, C O’Brien; C Dalton, P Gumley, L Connolly.
Subs: J O’Donovan for Fulignati, M Dorgan for Horgan (both 53); C Horgan for O’Driscoll (59)
St Finbarr’s: D Murphy; A McCarthy, G O’Connor, D Quinn; C Lyons, S Ryan, J Burns; I Maguire, E Comyns; D O’Brien, M Shields, E Dennehy; C Myers-Murray, R O’Mahony, S Sherlock.
Subs: R Leahy for O’Mahony (46 mins, inj); C Keane for O’Brien (53); A O’Connor for Lyons (61).
Referee: C Lane (Banteer).