Tony Leen puts under the microscope the received wisdom that you don’t give Nemo Rangers a second chance.
Nemo will shut down Ian Maguire this time?
Will they? With whom? If Larry Kavanagh’s management team hadn’t already figured Nemo don’t have a like-for-like athlete to subdue Ian Maguire, they’re painfully aware of it now.
Alan O’Donovan might have the engine to live with the Barrs talisman, but not the thrust, while Jack Horgan is not there yet. Michael Dorgan could come in and spoil Maguire, but he’ll hardly live with him at full flow either.
Barry O’Driscoll anyone? Save for the fact he was doubtful last Sunday with a hamstring (but still lasted 59 minutes), O’Driscoll seems the best equipped in terms of his pace and physique to live with Maguire’s penetrating bursts and offloads.
If he can manage that for 45 minutes, it could be enough to choke off the supply to Stephen Sherlock and co. Speaking of...
Stephen Cronin is a classy footballer and a centre-back in terms of his positioning and ability to read the play. But as a stopping, blocking barricade of a No 6? Not so much.
Not only was he of little value, in that context, in stopping Maguire, but one was left to wonder would he not have been better served with the responsibility at corner-back of snuffing out of the threat of Stephen Sherlock, the fulcrum of the Barr’s attack.
How central is Sherlock? Eight of the 14 points is one thing, but the way St Finbarr’s retained patient possession for the final two and a half minutes in the hope of slipping him in for the winning score underlined how much trust they have in their young corner-forward (and how much they rely on him). Cronin is a capable man-marker and seems more suited to the pivotal detail of shutting down Sherlock than captain Aidan O’Reilly is.
Nemo’s six starting forwards scored last Sunday. But for the latter two-thirds of the county final, they were peripheral.
The Trabeg side raised only three white flags in the last half an hour. The problem wasn’t so much profligacy — though Kerrigan and Dalton did miss good chances — but securing a foothold in the Barrs’ half of the pitch.
The thick blue line across the pitch has been referenced but it is up to Nemo’s half-back line too to break that barrier and force the Barrs into reverse. Kevin Fulignati had a very limited impact in that context and at 39, Tomás O Sé isn’t going to be galloping up the wing in the vast expanses of Páirc Ui Chaomh either.
That means Nemo must have an outlet running laterals across the pitch tomorrow — step forward Paul Kerrigan, who is due a big game.
Barrs manager Ray Keane has overseen steady progress in Togher, but he had one important factor in his corner before he started — they don’t fear Nemo.
In 2015, Nemo defeated Douglas and Castlehaven in replays en route to their 19th county title, but there’s no guarantee they’ll repeat the trick tomorrow.
Yes, the value of a tight one will stand to them — apart from UCC all their other wins this campaign have been by ten points and more — but if the Barrs have a full deck to pick from, they’ve dealt with the ‘occasion’ factor last Sunday. Tomorrow it’s all inside the white lines.
Nemo gut you with goals. If Barrs limit three-pointers, it opens up all sorts of possibilities. They’ll get curtailed contributions from Sherlock and Maguire, which opens it up for a new hero — Enda Dennehy, Rob O’Mahony or young Cillian Myers-Murray. Nemo don’t always win replays.
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