Neat Nemo untroubled despite loss of several key players

Nemo Rangers 1-13 Ardfinnan 0-6

This was a comprehensive victory over the home side in what was a disappointing quarter-final.

It took the Cork champions just 10 minutes to stamp their authority and playing with pace, fluidity and intelligence they had their semi-final place against the Waterford champions secured long before the final whistle.

Such is Nemo's wealth of talent that players like team captain Martin Cronin, his brother Alan, goalkeeper Don Heaphy and the Kavanagh brothers Derek and Joe weren't missed. It gave fringe players a chance to show what they can do, and the five replacements certainly have given the Nemo selectors something to ponder about.

Apart from the five absentees, Nemo also lost full-back Niall Geary early in the second half with a bad leg injury and their must be concern about his availability for the semi-final.

Neil O'Sullivan had a tremendous game as did David Niblock who contributed 1-1. Sean O'Brien was another to impress and made the transition from defender to forward with ease. He finished with three excellent points. Brian O'Regan stepped into the centre-back position as if he was made for it while the towering figure of Maurice McCarthy, ably assisted by Mick Daly, ensured the Cork champions won the midfield exchanges.

Ardfinnan were a huge disappointment. Despite being with two of the county final winning team, they were still expected to put up a better show. They played the sweeter football in the opening 10 minutes and would have embarrassed their opponents had Michael English capitalised on a mistake by the Nemo keeper who allowed a long delivery from Brendan Cummins to hop in front of him. They may point to the loss of Denis Walsh who was stretchered off after four minutes with concussion as one of the reasons why they failed.

The fact they could only muster four points from play for an hour's football while all but one of Nemos points came from play shows the gulf in standards between the sides.

There was a lot of friction in the game with the referee issuing seven yellow cards - four to Ardfinnan - while several players can count themselves fortunate that they weren't red.

Backed by most of the 1,477 attendance, Ardfinnan made the early running and led after just 35 seconds through a Lorcan Bannon point. The injury to Denis Walsh held play up for seven minutes and after it resumed, the home side continued to create the chances but were regularly caught in possession.

In stark contrast, Nemo used the ball more intelligently and with speed and after the sides had swapped points to be level at 0-2 apiece by the 22nd minute, the visitors began to take control. With Maurice McCarthy dominant at midfield, the scores began to flow, and had Sean O'Brien kept his shot a couple of feet lower, a goal would have resulted from one particularly classy move.

Walsh's injury meant seven minutes were added, and when the half-time whistle finally sounded Nemo were in front 0-7 to 0-2, Ardfinnan failing to score for 18 minutes.

The home side rung the changes for the second half but it mattered little as this well-oiled Nemo machine continued to dictate all over the field and when David Niblock slotted home the game's only goal after James Master picked him out with a superb line ball, the game was well and truly overt.

All credit to Ardfinnan, they hit back with three points-in-a-row but they were only token scores and the Cork champions were never in any danger of being overtaken. They finished with points by David Kearney and Joe Kavanagh to put the seal on a performance that will make them favourites for the provincial title next month.

Scorers: Nemo Rangers: D. Niblock 1-1; S. O'Brien, J. Masters (0-1 free) 0-3 each; M. Daly, A. Morgan, B. O'Regan, M. Kearney, J. Kavanagh, D. Kearney 0-1 each. Ardfinnan: L. Bannon 0-2; P. Lambert (free), A. Keating, P. Hally, B. Cummins 0-1 each.

NEMO RANGERS: B. Morgan; G. Murphy, N. Geary, G. O'Shea; N. O'Sullivan, B. O'Regan, C. O'Shea; M. McCarthy, M. Daly; A. Morgan, S. O'Brien, D. Niblock; W. Morgan, M. Kearney, J. Masters. Subs:S. Twomey for Geary; D. Mehigan for Daly; J. Kavanagh for A. Morgan; JP O'Neill for W. Morgan; D. Kearney for M. Kearney.

ARDFINNAN: E. Ryan; T. Ryan, AJ Lonergan, K. O'Brien; M. Phelan, JR Murphy, C. Hennessy; T. Maher, L. Bannon; J. English, T. Kearns, P. Hally; D. Walsh, P. Lambert, B. Cummins. Subs: M. English for Walsh; S. Maher for Hennessy; J. Ryan for Lambert; A. Keating for Kearns.

Referee: M. Ryan (Limerick).

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