Nemo Rangers manager Paul O’Donovan was full of praise for his defenders’ performance in yesterday’s Munster club final win over Clonmel Commercials.
O’Donovan led the tributes to his backs after the Cork champions held Clonmel to just six points over the hour.
“Aidan O’Reilly’s well used to marking big men, he was on Kieran Donaghy the last day, Mike McMahon against Newcastle West — they’re taller than him, but he’s able to manage them.
“(Clonmel’s) Michael Quinlivan is dangerous, he’s going to go for goals and we were conscious of that, we had to get bodies back around him.
“Fortunately Aidan was able to knock the ball away from him and we were able to pick up the breaks.”
Was O’Donovan surprised Quinlivan spent so much time outfield, away from goal?
“I suppose, we’d know a lot of their players — Jason Lonergan is a dangerous player, Alan Cronin handled him well. Colman Kennedy started well, but Brian Murphy got to grips with him eventually.
“I think it was a case of our backs adapting well to what they were doing. I was surprised that Quinlivan was out the field, but he’s dangerous at centre-forward as well — Stephen Cronin handled him well, though, and managed him.
“Their most dangerous player was probably Seamus Kennedy, who was getting forward and carrying the ball.
“But we spoke about that at half time, and Kevin O’Donovan pushed up on him quite a bit. We just stopped him running at us a bit.”
O’Donovan wasn’t forgetting his forwards either, particularly Man of the Match Luke Connolly.
“Mark Cronin was very good as well, he created space while Conor Horgan worked his socks off also — balls stuck when they went in to him.
“Luke (Connolly) scored seven points, so his eye was in today.
Last time we got 2-17 and he got one score, so the lads were slagging him afterwards, but when we needed him today, he stepped up.
The match venue wasn’t an issue for O’Donovan: “Once the Munster Council made the decision we were happy to go anywhere. We offered to toss, we were happy to go to Thurles or Páirc Uí Rinn, but Clonmel — as was their right — opted for a neutral venue.
“It was either here or Limerick, I suppose, but it’s a pitch, two goals, sidelines — we just needed to adapt to wherever it was played and I thought we adapted well, I thought we played very well today.”
Nemo will now face old adversaries Corofin in the All-Ireland semi-final.
“That’s for another day,” said O’Donovan. “But we’ll have to play better than we did today, there’s no doubt about that.
“But we’re in an All-Ireland semi-final, and that’s a great place to be. It’ll be a quiet Christmas for the lads, but I don’t think they’d have it any other way.”