Nemo Rangers upped the ante big time in the second half to send champions St Finbarr’s packing in appalling weather conditions at Páirc Uí Rinn on Saturday. The incessant rain made this Cork SFC quarter-final a real slog before the 2017 champions got the formula right after a sluggish enough opening half.
Battling Nemo kept the champions scoreless for 28 minutes of a rough and tumble second half that became a war of attrition, with referee Conor Lane issuing a plethora of yellow cards and Barrs’ Colm Keane seeing red after a second yellow offence late on.
Nemo boss Paul O’Donovan was pleased afterwards. “Retaining possession was key in the second half, we got the match-ups right and stopped them from scoring for most of the half. We had a lot of turnovers in the first half but I still felt we matched them and if we had got an early goal it might have made a big difference.
“In the conditions it was always going to be a dogged affair but I was delighted with some of the points Paul (Kerrigan) and Luke (Connolly) scored in the second half. Pleased, very pleased. We’ll have a recovery session now in the morning and then try and get our heads together for two weeks’ time and get our gameplan in order.”
The Blues looked the livelier outfit in the opening half despite Nemo spurning two good goal chances inside seven minutes.
First Brian Murphy and Jack Horgan set up Luke Connolly but the Cork attacker’s shot went across the goalmouth hitting Conor Horgan on the head before going wide.
Then Steven Cronin and Murphy again combined to set up Barry O’Driscoll but his shot was well saved by Barr’s keeper Patrick O’Neill for a 65 which Connolly beautifully pointed into the rain and wind.
But Barr’s were menacing too with Ian Maguire in fine form at midfield and Steven Sherlock sublime up front, scoring three fabulous points. The champions led 0-3 to 0-2, Mark Cronin giving Nemo an early lead.
With the aid of the elements, the Barr’s drove on with a Colm Keane giving them a tasty lead with two fine points but then they lost wing-back Colm Scully to a black card with Robert O’Mahony entering the action and Michael Shields moving to defensive duties.
Nemo were always in the picture, with a Cronin free and a Horgan free reducing the deficit and they might even have been ahead but for some poor shooting.
In the 28th minute the Barr’s lost a glorious goal chance when a Maguire set up Sherlock but he handpassed the ball to the net and the goal was disallowed. The Barr’s led 0-6 to 0-5 at the break thanks to a Maguire point.
With the rain bucketing down Nemo resumed full of menace in the second half and were ahead inside six minutes thanks to delicious points from a Mark Cronin free and Kerrigan and it was now Nemo leading 0-7 to 0-6 entering the final quarter as referee Lane became a busy man.
There was no stopping Nemo.
Despite the ball being like a bar of soap, Kerrigan, with his second, Connolly another and Horgan all pointed, and when Connolly added his fifth with a huge free Nemo were on their way, leading 0-11 to 0-6 with 58 minutes elapsed.
The Barr’s did stage a late charge with points from substitute Adrian Murphy and a Sherlock free but the damage was done and Jack Horgan’s last-minute goal merely put the icing on the cake as Nemo now face a mouth-watering semi-final clash with Douglas.
L. Connolly (0-5, 2 frees, 1 45); J. Horgan (1-0); M. Cronin (0-3, 1 free), C. Horgan and P. Kerrigan (0-2 each)
S. Sherlock (0-4, 1 free); C. Keane (0-2); I. Maguire and A. Murphy (0-1 each).
M.A. Martin; B. Murphy, A O’Reilly, A. Cronin; K.O’Donovan, S. Cronin, J. Horgan; P. Morgan, J. McDermott; L. Connolly, P. Kerrigan, C. O’Brien; M. Cronin, B. O’Driscoll, C. Horgan.
B. Cripps for A. Cronin (b s), A. O’Donovan for Morgan (50m), C. Dalton for O’Driscoll (56m).
P. O‘Neill; R. O’Dwyer, D. Quinn, C. Dennehy; C. Scully, C. Lyons, J. Burns; I. Maguire, B. Hayes; C. Keane, C. Barrett, D. O’ Brien; E. McGreevey, S. Sherlock, M. Shields.
P. Kennedy for O’Dwyer (13m), R. O’Mahony for Scully ((b c 23m), J. Linehan for O’Mahony (30m), C. Davey for Quinn (35m), A. Murphy for Hayes (43m), C. McCarthy for O’Brien (56m).
C. Lane (Banteer).