Manager Paul O’Donovan is delighted Nemo Rangers will have a central role to play in this year’s Cork senior football championship final following their 1-16 to 0-9 victory over Ballincollig.
Having achieved back-to-back success in 2019 and 2020, they were onlookers in last year’s decider as St Finbarr’s narrowly defeated Clonakilty.
“I thought in the second-half we were magnificent. They only got three points, and for us to get 1-9 - that was a fantastic return. Our whole energy and fitness level was superb, particularly in the second-half.
“The first-half was nip and tuck. We probably missed a few chances that we could have stretched out a bit of a lead.
“You’d have to praise Ballincollig, they did defend in numbers but they came forward in numbers as well. They pushed us on every one of our kick-outs. It is probably the first match this year we have been pushed on all our kick-outs. Today they made us work for it, and I am delighted we got over a very good side.
“We still have stuff to work on. We have a hurling match next Sunday (Seandún JAHC final versus Brian Dillons). Two weeks ago, we beat Carbery Rangers. Of the 20 fellas that played that day, 11 of them played in the hurling semi-final last week. I’d imagine the 11 of them will be involved next week.
"That means we will do very little for the week. It is three weeks to the county final, that will be great. It is the longest stretch between matches we have had this year. But we have things to work on, no doubt.”
That said, after low-scoring one-point wins over Carbery Rangers and Clonakilty, this surely was more Nemo-esque?
“We got 1-16 today, probably could have got another five or six - a few narrow wides. Great array of scorers, well spread out. And we kept a clean sheet at the other end.
“Anytime you can keep a team to nine points, that is always our goal when we go out trying to keep the opposition to nine points or less. We are very good at managing that this year, and again today was fantastic.
“Resolute defending there at times, especially towards the end. Brian Murphy was very good in commanding around the square. (Kieran) Histon did a great job for us corner-back marking their danger man Darren Murphy, one-on-one.”
There was no start for veteran Paul Kerrigan this time?
“We are asking Paul to run 9 and 10k as a middle eight player. We are asking him to do an awful lot. We’d prefer to bring him on. He showed (his class) when he came on, he made a pass to Mark Cronin for a free. There is no-one else that can do that.
“We want Paul on the pitch for the whole game obviously, and he does too, but we have to be realistic as well. The man is 37. That is not to say, he won’t start the next day. That’s the way it is. I have great confidence in him. When he came on, he settled the team down.
“Naturally enough, everyone wants to start. I still want to play.”