Kerrigan edges nearer top of the Nemo pantheon

Yesterday saw Paul Kerrigan win his eighth Cork SFC medal, 14 years after he picked up his first back in 2005.

Kerrigan edges nearer top of the Nemo pantheon

Yesterday saw Paul Kerrigan win his eighth Cork SFC medal, 14 years after he picked up his first back in 2005.

He is now the elder statesman of this Nemo Rangers team, though his burst of pace is still a feature of his game.

He is an ideal role model for any young footballer who wants to follow in his footsteps out in Trabeg.

When Duhallow came hard at Nemo in the second half in Páirc Uí Rinn yesterday, Kerrigan knew instinctively what he had to do, dropping back to help out his defence and giving them an outlet when it was badly needed.

In the aftermath, however, it was as if he had just won his first title and though the second-half performance may not have been pretty, all that mattered was getting over the line.

“I’m absolutely overjoyed. It was probably the worst we’ve played in the last three games but still, a win is a win and they’d have taken a one point win two so we’re delighted with whatever it was in the end. We probably made hard work of it, but we’ll take it.

“We kind of started to lose our shape and they just went for it. They put Aidan Walsh to wing-forward I think, and they’d big men all over the place and we kind of ran out of steam for five minutes and lost a few breaks. But luckily, Micheál Martin made a fantastic save and he kept us in it.”

Those saves were indeed crucial but so was Kerrigan’s willingness to come deep and help out in his defence.

Afterwards, centre-back Stephen Cronin spoke about the lift it gave the backs to see Kerrigan picking up vital breaks in his own goalmouth twice in the last five minutes.

That desire to get back and help out was borne out of frustration with the work-rate of the forwards in the opening period, even if things were going well on the scoreboard.

“As a forward unit, we spoke about it at half-time, we didn’t do enough and we let our backs down today a bit. But we’ll learn from it as well and we’ll pick it up for the next day.”

Last year, Kerrigan and Nemo were left extremely disappointed with how their campaign ended. As reigning champions, they never quite got back to where they needed to be after losing the All-Ireland final to Corofin.

Castlehaven unceremoniously dumped them out of the championship and there was a long winter of reflection.

No matter how much you win, it’s the losses that seem to resonate more deeply and ultimately it made Nemo stronger this year, as they also took the chance to freshen up their panel.

“Yeah, we went out with a bit of a whimper last year and it was very disappointing and fellas probably had to go away and have a good look at themselves. But I think fellas gave it back in spades this year.

We had five U-21s coming into our team, coming on and coming off. You’ve fellas like Colin Horgan coming in, Jack Horgan moving to wing-back and we’d Alan O’Donovan back from doing the cruciate in his knee. So it all kind of came together and we timed it well and we’re just delighted with how it all went.

Winning, like everything else is a habit and the Nemo talisman is as good at it as anyone. But he won’t be satisfied with eight medals either, there’s always more to be won, though he is edging closer to the top of the table in terms of honours in Trabeg.

“You can’t get enough of them. I think the record in the club is nine so I’m one closer now. But as I always say, the next one is the most important one but we’ll enjoy the week, I think we’re playing again in a few weeks and we’ll drive it on from there then.”

The next one on offer won’t be in Cork, however, as Nemo take off on another Munster odyssey. For Kerrigan, it’s all about finding the right balance. Victories need to be celebrated but they can’t be dwelt upon for too long.

Newcastle West await them in their opening encounter and after winning Munster in 2017, Nemo will surely be targeting another provincial title at least?

“I’m probably not even going to think about it until Wednesday but that will look after itself too. When we get there we’ll do our analysis and preparation for whoever we’re playing so we’ll enjoy the next couple of days.”

They’ll do so when the time is right, they have the knack for recognising it.

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