Commercials stunner still raw for Kerrigan

The ghost of Munster final past. Just one of those four previous experiences haunts Paul Kerrigan, and that nightmare becomes more acute as Sunday draws near.

Commercials stunner still raw for Kerrigan

The ghost of Munster final past. Just one of those four previous experiences haunts Paul Kerrigan, and that nightmare becomes more acute as Sunday draws near.

It starts like a dream. The scoreline reads Nemo Rangers 0-9 Clonmel Commercials 0-7 in the last minute of the allocated additional time. But then Aldo Matassa pumps the ball into Michael Quinlivan who fields it over two defenders, turns right, and shoots low for the winning score.

“I can remember because I was fecking captain,” Kerrigan says wryly. “They took a short kick-out — myself or one of the lads fouled him, inside their 45. They took another short kick-pass to midfield — another one of our lads fouled him. Then your man got up and launched it. Quinlivan caught it or broke it, and just swivelled. And it just dribbled into the far corner.

“I suppose our biggest lesson was, last minute of a Munster final and we were two points up, we just didn’t have enough bodies behind the ball. The sickening part is you didn’t have a chance to go for an equaliser.

“It was literally the last kick of the game. It was galling for two years. I’ve come around to it, though. Whether they beat us by one or 10 points, it’s still in the books that they won Munster. Yeah, fairly galling at the time.”

And yet it stands alone as Kerrigan’s only disappointment at the pinnacle point of the province. That pedigree should ensure there is no baggage in Fraher Field.

“I think with the club we are a bit different … most Cork teams when they come out of Cork seem to struggle.

"Whereas our record, I think we have 21 counties now and 16 Munsters, so we have a good record, nearly three quarters of the time when we come out of the county we win a Munster, so it is nearly expected, so we have a rich tradition in that. So you respect every team but you wouldn’t fear anyone once you come out.”

They mightn’t have been Kerry county champions, but it was for that reason Nemo beat Austin Stacks handsomely, Kerrigan argues. “It was a free hit (for Stacks), but I suppose we just blew them out of the water.

“We would have had our analysis done on Stacks and Crokes anyway, so it was just preparing for a week.

There’s never a bad team that comes out for Kerry at underage, schools, or senior level. It just happened that we clicked on the day, we wanted to have a better performance after the Newcastlewest game and they were on the end of it.

Nemo, he hopes, will occupy his head and time until the middle of January. He supports the shortened club season is one he supports, although he feels the inter-county schedule can be condensed further.

“If the finals were the August bank holiday weekend they could make a big thing about that.

"Then you’d be back with your club two weeks later, in the middle of August. Starting middle of August, your championship should be finished middle of October. The calendar is the biggest problem, to be honest.”

The soon-to-be 33-year-old has “showed the face” at Cork training while glad to be avoiding the slog. His early senior inter-county career was marked by league and Munster titles only to be followed by a trough of relegation and qualifier defeats, but he’s sensing a revival.

“I can remember when we were pretty good around 2008, ’09 up to ’12 and ’13, and that’s when that Blue Wave was starting for Dublin and you’re there ‘what are they on about?’ But who’s laughing now? I remember when that started and as I say we probably weren’t progressive enough in Cork but I think it is going very much in the right direction [now].

“The 20s came out of nowhere to win the All-Ireland and then the minors won theirs and we got to the Super 8s. I think fellas should realise in Cork that’s the baseline: the quarter-finals and the Super 8s.

“There’s a new board and structures, the club championships have changed a bit as well to make them a bit more competitive, so it’s starting to get a bit more progressive rather than reactive, which we always were.”

Paul Kerrigan was speaking at the launch of Sunday’s AIB Munster Club SFC final in Dublin yesterday.

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