Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. That was Nemo Rangers boss Larry Kavanagh’s description of yesterday’s Munster Club SFC clash with Adare of Limerick, a game Nemo duly won by 19 points.
Adare (Limerick) 0-4
“We’ll go back and someone will probably say ‘why didn’t ye win by more’, but that sums it up,” said Kavanagh.
“Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
“We were half-wary, we felt they were on a bit of a run having won the U21 and intermediate last year, the senior this year.
“We were a bit sloppy but once we got going the important thing was not to concede. We did concede a bit in the county finals so we wanted to avoid that, to get the scores ourselves and then to empty the bench.”
Adare set out their stall early with a patient session of passing for the opening two minutes, only for Nemo to turn them over and surge upfield for a Paul Kerrigan point.
That was the template: the Cork side were content to absorb pressure and attack in numbers on the break, a playing style as embedded in the Nemo psyche as the club colours. Kerrigan added another point and Luke Connolly almost goaled before hitting the net on ten minutes with a classy strike after a good Alan O’Donovan pass.
When Connolly pointed a free on 13 minutes it was 1-3 to 0-0 and Adare were in deep trouble. They had their first point from Mark Connolly and Kerrigan responded. Another Luke Connolly free and Nemo led 1-5 to 0-1 on 20 minutes.
A Hugh Bourke free was Adare’s second point but Barry O’Driscoll hit Nemo’s second goal, fielding a Paddy Gumley delivery well and finishing calmly on 25 minutes. O’Driscoll pointed a free a minute later and the hill got even steeper for Adare - 2-6 to 0-2 at the half.
Nemo added Jack Horgan, Colin O’Brien and Luke Connolly (free) points on the resumption to put even more daylight between the sides.
Adare responded with a Bourke free but O’Driscoll hit another Nemo free and the margin returned to 13 points.
From then on it was a matter of learning the final margin rather than the identity of the winner. Adare needed a hatful of goals to even make a game of it, goals which were never likely with Nemo’s well-organised rearguard. The gap at the end of the game could have been greater than nineteen points had the Cork side been more clinical, but they did their job and find themselves in yet another provincial decider Nemo will face Kerry champions Dr Croke’s in that final, though yesterday’s game was no great preparation for what will surely be a far more testing game.
Kavanagh was already looking ahead to that game, having removed star forward Luke Connolly “as a precaution” early in the second half.
“He said during the week he had a bit of a calf injury but that he’d run it out. He said he’d go to half-time but you could see he wasn’t himself. We were going to pull him but he went to the second half, then it kept tightening so we felt why make it worse. Tomás (Ó Sé) and Cian (Mawhinney) are gone long term, but Jack Horgan and Kevin Fulignati were a bonus because they haven’t trained since the county final, they were just right for toda.
“And Jack O’Donovan came in and played a blinder, so that shows the strength in depth that we think we have. I was delighted for him.” Adare manager Harry Gleeson agreed that the second Nemo goal had left his side deflated.
“That just seemed to catch us, the body language around the field . . . it is what it is, they did their best, I know they’re very disappointed because they believe they’re better than that, and so do I. We had no problem holding possession for as long as we did, and for some reason the lads thought they had to use the ball a bit quicker than they needed to at times, but with the occasion, when guys are under pressure, you have to forgive them for decisions they make out on the pitch. It isn’t easy. It’ll bring them on. Some of them were disappointed with (losing the intermediate championship to) Kenmare last year, but this is a completely different level. It may show where the football level is in Lmerick, and there’s a lot of work to get up to this kind of level.”
In the Nemo corner there was that awareness that Dr Crokes lurk just around the corner; Larry Kavanagh was just happy it hadn’t infected yesterday’s performance.
“That’d be the danger - that someone has their eye on Crokes and then, if you’re in a nine points to eight battle, that can be hard to snap out of. But they didn’t, in fairness. They applied themselves. We only conceded four points, and two of those were frees.” Their win could hardly have been more conclusive, but as their manager noted when it comes to such games: damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
Scorers for Nemo:
B. O’Driscoll (0-2 frees), L. Connolly (0-3 frees)(1-3 each), P. Kerrigan (1 free)(0-6); C. Horgan (0-3); J. Horgan, K. Fulignati (0-1).
Scorers for Adare:
H. Bourke (frees)(0-2); R. Bourke (free), M. Connolly (0-1 each).
M. Martin, K. O’Donovan, A. O’Reilly (c), A. Cronin, J. Donovan, S. Cronin, K. Fulignati, A. O’Donovan, J. Horgan, B. O’Driscoll, P. Kerrigan, C. O’Brien, P. Gumley, L. Connolly, C. Dalton.
C. Horgan for Connolly (35); A. Greaney and M. Dorgan for J. Horgan and Gumley (45); C. Kiely and C. O’Shea for O’Reilly and O’Brien (53); S. Martin for Fulignati (56).
J. Hickey, O. Collins, A. O’Connor, E. Costello, E. Ryan, D. Connolly, P. Maher, S. Doherty (c), R. Bourke, S. Keeley, J. English, C. McCarthy, M. Connolly, H. Bourke, M. Lyons.
D. Lyons for McCarthy (35); A. O’Connell for Keeley (50); D. O’Connor and J. Fitzgerald for Collns and Maher (55); C. Flanagan for Connolly (56); B. Supple for English (57).
A. Kissane (Waterford)
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