Nemo goals doom Duhallow early
County SFC Final - Nemo Rangers 2-8, Duhallow 0-10
No pot of silverware for Duhallow after a top drawer Nemo Rangers performance in the opening half paved the way to lift the County Senior Football Championship title for the 21st occasion at Páirc Uí Rinn last Sunday.
A bitter pill for Duhallow to swallow given they were experiencing defeat in a decider for the second consecutive season. Goals win games, so it proved again after precision strikes in quick succession ripped the heart out of an error strewn Duhallow challenge during the second quarter.
Though falling eleven points adrift, Duhallow offered a courageous response attempting to extricate themselves for what looked a hopeless situation. As Nemo struggled to maintain a foothold on the proceedings, losing the width and vision that had served them so well earlier, a barrage of Duhallow pressure ate into the deficit.
Still Duhallow required a goal to make their presence really felt, try as they might, they failed to break down a solid Nemo rearguard with 'keeper Micheál Aodh Martin in magnificent form to pull off brilliant saves. Opposite netminder Patrick Doyle performed heroics as well, keeping his side in the picture, averting danger with a spectacular double save from a preying Nemo attack.
At times both sides offered neat passages of play yet there was no disputing that the overall fare served up was mediocre. Nemo at their best in the opening half, exhibited a quickness of thought, movement and action that Duhallow had difficulty to cancel.
Of course, those goals proved pivotal as a Nemo attack made a rich feed of possession, full-back Aidan O'Reilly fetched brilliantly from a Duhallow restart, the ball moved smartly per Paul Kerrigan and Alan Cronin, before Luke Connolly drilled the ball low to the net.
That score gave Nemo the impetus for more, just 33 seconds further on in the clock, another green flag, Colin O'Brien won the kick-out, Connolly again won possession, a low drive was blocked by Doyle only for Connolly make no mistake from the rebound.
The writing was now on the wall for Duhallow yet they couldn't be faulted for the massive heart and effort delivered in the second half yet a disjointed spell in the opening spell proved their undoing. Nemo had opened full of promise, Mark Cronin pointed and the menacing Connolly might well had goaled only to fire narrowly wide.
Indeed Nemo held a far greater tempo, defenders O'Reilly, Stephen Cronin and Jack Horgan were a tower of strength with Alan O'Donovan, James O'Donovan and Colin O'Brien holding a dominance in the centre. And in attack, Connolly created endless problems, taking a pass from Paul Kerrigan to point.
Duhallow were often let down by a lack of composure, back-to-back '45s from Aidan Walsh fell short as did a number of other efforts. However, Duhallow improved, coming to grips with matters after a sweeping move involving Seamus Hickey and Walsh allowed defender Kevin Cremin punch over a point.
And a great move that brought Conor O'Callaghan, Eoghan McSweeney into play allowed Donncha O'Connor post a marvellous point from distance to gather parity. The Nemo response was sharp and decisive, loose marking within the Duhallow rearguard allowed O'Brien and Mark Cronin point.
Simply Nemo raised the intensity levels, the pressure on Duhallow grew rapidly, the concession of two goals had Duhallow trailing 2-6 to 0-2 at the break. Connolly added to the Nemo advantage upon the restart only for matters turn around as belatedly Duhallow mounted a decent challenge.
Three points in quick succession from Fintan O'Connor, Donncha O'Connor and McSweeney lifted the spirits of the Barony. Still Nemo looked to be comfortably positioned yet Duhallow carried the fight, availing from the growing influence of Aidan and Paul Walsh, Kevin Crowley and O'Callaghan
A spell of concerted pressure yielded points to Anthony O'Connor and Crowley with a second from O'Connor brilliantly diverted over the crossbar by Nemo goalkeeper Martin. However, Nemo might well had struck for a goal of their own, Duhallow 'keeper Doyle performed heroics to deny Connolly his hat-trick and turned away a rasper from the rebound by Barry O'Driscoll.
Certainly there were chances of Duhallow strikes, Crowley,denied by a surperb tackle from Stephen Cronin. Duhallow plugged away, a terrific turnover by Hickey set up Ian Walsh to point with a likewise effort from McSweeney narrowing the arrears to four.
In a frantic finish, Duhallow charged at Nemo, substitute Daniel O'Connell brought the best out of Martin. Nemo held out, owing much to a productive opening half to wrestle back the biggest prize in Cork football.
NEMO RANGERS: MA Martin; A Cronin, A O'Reilly, B Murphy; K O'Donovan, S Cronin, J Horgan; A O'Donovan, J McDermott; B O'Driscoll, P Kerrigan 0-1, C O'Brien 0-1; M Cronin 0-2, L Connolly 2-4(0-3f), C Horgan Subs: C Dalton for B O'Driscoll (52); P Morgan for C Horgan (59), R Dalton for C O'Brien (59)
DUHALLOW: P Doyle (Knocknagree); J McLoughlin (Kanturk), K Crowley (Millstreet) 0-1, M Mahoney (Knocknagree); K Cremin (Boherbue) 0-1, L O'Neill (Kanturk), B Daly (Newmarket); P Walsh (Kanturk), A Walsh (Kanturk); E McSweeney (Knocknagree) 0-2, S Hickey (Rockchapel), C O'Callaghan (Dromtarriffe); A O'Connor (Knocknagree) 0-2(0-1f), F O'Connor (Knocknagree) 0-1, D O'Connor (Ballydesmond) 0-2 (0-1f) Subs: I Walsh (Kanturk) 0-1 for D O'Connor (40); K Buckley (Knocknagree) for M Mahoney (44); D O'Connell (Kanturk) for B Daly (49); B O'Connor (Newmarket) for F O'Connor (56); D O'Keeffe (Dromtarriffe) for A O'Connor (62)
Referee: J Ryan (Macroom)