Curtailing Ian Maguire will be central to the Nemo game-plan for Sunday’s Cork SFC final replay, according to Larry Kavanagh, but the Nemo manager doesn’t envisage his team crowding the midfield area or adopting a defensive approach to do so.
Maguire was awesome in last weekend’s drawn game, his barreling runs from midfield consistently took him past the Nemo half-back line and created overlaps for the likes of half-back Colin Lyons, who kicked two second-half points. The 23-year-old may have ended with just 0-1 beside his name, but he had a direct hand in at least half of St Finbarr’s 0-14 total.
Kavanagh doesn’t need to be told that stopping the Cork midfielder will go a long way towards delivering Nemo a 20th Cork crown.
“He had something like 18 possessions in the second-half. He was their platform,” said Kavanagh.
“Last Sunday, we just couldn’t get the ball past midfield in the second-half. Their half-backs pushed up and, so, if you can get beyond it, which we did in the first period, there is a lot of space. It was a risk they had to take in the second period.
“A lot of it in the second-half was that the kick-outs were coming from our side. The kick-outs in the first-half were predominantly from their side. They can’t push hard on their own restarts, whereas they were really shoving up on ours. We couldn’t get out. We had expected and prepared for it, but dealing with it when it happens is another thing.”
Listening to the Nemo boss, you get the impression their efforts to negate the Barrs number eight will centre on playing the flanks, as opposed to positioning an extra green-and-black shirt in Maguire’s area.
“The Barr’s already have enough players in that area without us adding to it. Their half-back line steps forward and our half-forwards have to follow them. Their half-forwards come out too. That’s eight of their players and eight of ours all converging around the middle. We want to try and create space in there, we want to keep the ball moving as fast as we can.
“You could put all your focus on Maguire. Then Eoin Comyns, who was good the last day, could start ghosting through, because we are watching the other fella. You’d be thinking that if you kept Maguire and [Stephen] Sherlock quiet, you’d be halfway there. They are probably saying the same about Luke Connolly.”
Nemo’s most recent county final victory — 2015 — came after 120 minutes of football against Castlehaven. Kavanagh said that replay hasn’t been referenced this week and he described the mood in their camp as “upbeat”, despite all-and-sundry agreeing they should have closed out the result last Sunday, when leading 0-11 to 0-4 after 34 minutes.
Being a “bit player” on what is effectively county hurling final afternoon doesn’t bother him; the 1pm start, however, he’s not mad about.
“Being the undercard doesn’t affect us, it is more so the time. You’ll find lads will be unsure as to what and when to eat early in the morning. That’s minor enough, though.”
He added: “I was delighted it was put on this weekend, as opposed to a fortnight gap. If it hadn’t been this weekend, our hurlers would have been out and there is the risk of injuries being picked up.”
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