Nemo Rangers will take on reigning champions Corofin in the All-Ireland club football semi-final after comfortably seeing off Clonmel in today’s Munster decider.
Corofin and Nemo last crossed paths in the 2018 All-Ireland club final, a game which the North Galway side won with 15 points to spare. Redemption, so, will be sought by Nemo when they step back inside the ring with Corofin on the opening weekend of January.
Today, it was a case of redemption achieved as Nemo laid to rest the ghosts of their traumatic 2015 Munster final defeat to Clonmel.
Paul O’Donovan’s side were led only once, holding their opponents scoreless for periods of 18 and 24 minutes. The Nemo defence, which has not conceded more than 10 scores in any championship game this year, kept Commercials to four points from play overall.
Ahead by four at the break, back-to-back points from Luke Connolly and Barry O’Driscoll shoved Nemo six in front by the 40th minute. And the form Clonmel were in, their play was littered with mistakes, suggested a comeback was never on.
Jack Kennedy, on 46 minutes, kicked Clonmel’s first point since the 22nd minute to leave the scoreboard reading 0-10 to 0-4. Six was as close as they got thereafter as Nemo landed four of the next five points. One of those was a sumptuous Connolly white flag, the inside forward proving a real thorn for the opposition defence.
Mark Cronin (free) and sub Kevin Fulignati closed out a nine-point win, delivering Nemo a 17th provincial crown. For Clonmel, this was a fifth Munster final defeat. No club has lost as many Munster senior football finals as they have.
Nemo led 0-7 to 0-3 at the break, a four-point advantage they were full value for. In truth, it could have been more, the Cork champions failing to put away three goal chances in the opening 14 minutes. Wastefulness in front of goal had been an issue for Nemo in the latter stages of the county championship and this lack of economy in front of goal again reared its head here.
Paul Kerrigan was the first to be presented with a green flag opportunity, his palmed effort directed straight at Clonmel ‘keeper Michael O’Reilly. The Clonmel custodian was at full stretch to keep out a Connolly drive, while the latter later palmed a goal chance over the bar.
Jason Lonergan had the Tipperary champions first on the board after two minutes, but that was to prove their sole score in the opening 20 minutes. Three from Connolly and a Mark Cronin free had Nemo 0-4 to 0-1 ahead when Commercials, through Ross Peters, landed their second of the afternoon and first from play. A superb Seamus Kennedy point subsequently narrowed the gap to the minimum, but it was Nemo, who had largely dominated the opening half an hour, that finished the first period the stronger, Kevin O’Donovan and Conor Horgan landing a brace.
They continued to push on upon the change of ends.
Scorers for Nemo Rangers: L Connolly (0-7, 0-2 frees); M Cronin (0-3, 0-3 frees); K O’Donovan, P Kerrigan, B O’Driscoll, C Horgan, K Fulignati (0-1 each).
Scorers for Clonmel Commercials: R Peters (0-2); M Quinlivan (0-1 free), J Lonergan (0-1 free); J Kennedy, S Kennedy (0-1 each).
Nemo Rangers: MA Martin; B Murphy, A O’Reilly, A Cronin; K O’Donovan, S Cronin, J Horgan; A O’Donovan, J McDermott; B O’Driscoll, P Kerrigan, C O’Brien; M Cronin, L Connolly, C Horgan.
Subs: C Dalton for O’Brien (50); K Fulignati for O’Driscoll (58); R Dalton for J Horgan, B Twomey for C Horgan, K Histon for B Murphy (all 63).
Clonmel Commercials: M O’Reilly; C McGeever, L Ryan, D Madigan; K Fahey, S Kennedy, K Harney; Conal Kennedy, J Kennedy; R Peters, Colman Kennedy, J Peters; J Lonergan, M Quinlivan, S O’Connor.
Subs: P Looram for Colman Kennedy (HT); R Lambe for Conal Kenedy (40 mins); R Gunne for R Peters (54); D Lynch for Madigan (58); M Murphy for K Harney (63).
Referee: P O’Sullivan (Kerry).