'Haven lament phantom point as replay looms
Nemo Rangers 0-10 Castlehaven 0-10
For a moment Mark Collins felt sure he was to be the hero.
The Castlehaven man had put in a superb shift over the course of the hour. And he felt he had crowned that display with the winner. The umpires disagreed with him, however, and the Cork football final finished in a draw. After all that had gone before, it seemed about right.
"Mark felt it tailed in at the end, but look it was called wide. We'll take it and move on again to the next day," Castlehaven selector James McCarthy said afterwards.
There were no major qualms from either side with how the day finished up. Both had their periods of dominance, though 'Haven's first-half wides looked at one stage like they might be their undoing.
For a game that was littered with marquee performers, this was a day for rolling up the sleeves.
"We've a second chance at it," said Nemo Rangers manager Steven O'Brien, who saw Paul Kerrigan sent off for a second yellow card in injury- time. "We were a man down in the last few minutes and any time you come out of a county final with a drawn game like that you're delighted.
"We did well in the first 15 minutes; they did well in the second 15 minutes. The second half, I thought we got to grips with them in the middle of the field and they struggled to score. They had two great goal chances and our keeper pulled off a couple of great saves.
"Up and down all day, we were two down if not three at one stage and came back and got a few. They missed a few, we missed a few."
Nemo came into this final with a plan and for the first quarter of an hour it looked to be working perfectly. They dispatched Colin O'Brien to play as a sweeper in front of Castlehaven danger man Brian Hurley - who was closely watched by Aidan O'Reilly - and the move looked to be working well.
'Haven were frustrated, with a number of deliveries to Hurley's vicinity not reaching their intended target. In this period too, they racked up the wides.
They would kick nine in the first half alone.
At the other end, Nemo could generate scores. Luke Connolly landed a fine 45 before he was forced off with injury, while James Masters also showed his eye was in to help the city side into a 0-4 to 0-1 lead after 15 minutes.
However, Castlehaven slowly started to pick the lock and they gave a reminder of their potency when hitting three points in as many minutes to tie up the game.
At this stage, Nemo were struggling to get out from the high press 'Haven used on their kick out, with the likes of Masters and Paul Kerrigan starved of possession as the 2013 champions turned the screw.
Further scores from Shane Nolan and Mark Collins opened up a two-point lead as O'Brien's Nemo side went 15 minutes without registering a score.
Jack Donovan ended that run with a fine point, though he might have put former Kerry star Tomas Ó Sé clear for a run at goal. However, 'Haven had the last word of the half when Damien Cahalane boomed over a fine point to leave his side 0-7 to 0-5 to the good.
As the players went off for half-time a small scuffle kicked off. It was over almost as soon as it started but when the teams re-emerged, referee Conor Lane handed out a few yellows. If anything, the row seemed to spark Nemo into life.
Kerrigan got off the mark as Nemo hit three on the bounce to move into the lead once more before a Hurley free levelled things at 0-8 each.
Castlehaven hit the next two points of the game but might have generated at least one goal in that period.
First Mark Collins saw his effort well tipped over by Nemo keeper Micheal Aodh Martin, who also denied Hurley from close range.
A goal at that stage would likely have been the end for Nemo, but they kicked the last two points of the game to tie things up again.
In the three minutes of added-time, both sides had chance to win it. Barry O'Driscoll missed a difficult free from the touchline, not long after Masters - who had been on the left footed frees - was withdrawn.
Castlehaven's best chance came through Collins' disputed effort at the death, but there was to be no winner.
"(It's about) whoever learns the most, we'll see," McCarthy said. "Who had the momentum at the end? It's hard to say, we had a shot, Barry O'Driscoll had one too so we could have lost by a point or won by a point."
Details of the replay are expected to be confirmed today.
Scorers - Nemo Rangers: B O'Driscoll 0-3 (1f), P Kerrigan, J Masters (2fs) 0-2 each, D Mehigan, J Donovan, L Connolly (1 '45) 0-1 each. Castlehaven: M Collins, B Hurley (3f) 0-3 each, M Hurley 0-2, S Nolan, Damien Cahalane 0-1 each.
Nemo Rangers - MA Martin; A O'Reilly, C O'Shea, A Cronin; J Donovan, T O Se, K Fulignati; D Niblock, A O'Donovan; C O'Brien, B O'Driscoll, L Connolly; J Masters, P Kerrigan, D Mehigan . Subs: C Dalton for Connolly (16), C Horgan for Masters (48), D O'Donovan for O'Reilly (54), S Martin for Donovan (57).
Castlehaven - P Hurley; J O'Regan, D Limrick, T O'Leary; R Whelton, Damien Cahalane, C Hayes; M Collins, S Dineen; S Collins, S Hurley, S Cahalane; S Nolan, B Hurley, M Hurley Subs: D Hurley for S Collins (40), Darragh Cahalane for S Hurley (46), D Hegarty for Nolan (54),
Ref - C Lane.