Thursday 22 August 2019

'Final loss the worst ever' - Kerrigan

Memories of last-gasp defeat to Clonmel driving Kerrigan and Nemo

Paul Kerrigan is relishing Nemo Rangers’ showdown with Dr Crokes in the AIB Munster Club SFC final at Pairc Ui Rinn tomorrow. Photo: Sportsfile
Paul Kerrigan is relishing Nemo Rangers’ showdown with Dr Crokes in the AIB Munster Club SFC final at Pairc Ui Rinn tomorrow. Photo: Sportsfile

Paul Kerrigan doesn't have to look too far back to be reminded of what it is like to lose a Munster club SFC final.

It's 2015 and Nemo Rangers are playing Clonmel Commercials in the provincial decider in a freezing Mallow. The Cork men are two points up in injury-time and are trying to see out the game.

One high, raking ball later and Michael Quinlivan has turned the game on its head.

"It was the worst ever, that's the only way I can describe it, it literally was the last kick of the game," Kerrigan sighs.

"We were behind for a bit of it, worked away and got two points up, they took a short kick-out, I fouled him and then… someone else fouled him and I think they just lumped it in, the ball broke and he swivelled and bottom corner. Horrendous to be honest with you."

That's a memory that will be with Kerrigan and his team-mates as they return to an AIB Munster final in Páirc Uí Rinn tomorrow.

The Nemo man might have been in Australia for the past three weeks, following in his father Jimmy's footsteps and playing in a series Down Under with Joe Kernan's International Rules side.

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However, once Nemo won in Cork after a replay, he was forced to pull out.

"I suppose when you put a lot of time into something it's nice to get a reward out of it.

"I'd say it was the week before the county final, the first county final, and it's in your head then, it's a hard thing to call because I've always looked at the International Rules, my Dad played it in the '80s, he was in Australia 30 years ago.

"I'd have loved to have gone and followed that but I was lucky enough to have played.

"At start of the year you write down a few goals, five or six goals - win the county and make the tour were two.

"I suppose I did do two of them but I couldn't obviously go on the tour. I was gutted. I rang Joe on the Monday and he was expecting it, he said 'fair enough'. He knows about club more than anyone."

Nemo face reigning All-Ireland champions Dr Crokes of Kerry and go into the game as underdogs.

However, they can hold on to the memory of the 2010 Munster final when they blitzed the Killarney men from the start. At one stage their lead stood at a staggering 13 points.

"It's probably the best first half I've ever seen or played in," he recalls.

"It was unbelievable. I think Barry O'Driscoll from the outside of the left from one sideline and I got one from the outside of the right on the other sideline.

"(James) Masters scored a goal from just inside the 21 with a drop-kick.

"It was very few wides or anything, everything we hit went over, half-backs getting scores, guys coming on getting scores, it was unbelievable.

"We had a couple of big men in the middle of the field, Ciaran O'Shea was marking 'Gooch' as well, did quite well on him, and (Brian) Morgan saved a one-on-one shot from him in the first half as well. Everything went really, really to plan for us.

"It was funny because we played Ballincollig in a league game the week before and were well beaten. It was a bit funny like that but as I said it was the best half of football I was ever involved in or seen."

Back then, Nemo were the established force in the province and Crokes were the team looking to find their feet.

"The tables are turned now. Nemo haven't won in Munster since that 2010 game while the Killarney men are looking for a fifth provincial title in seven seasons.

"I suppose we'll probably be underdogs. My first couple of years with Nemo we used to play Crokes every year in challenge games.

"Then they started winning... they obviously started going into provincial games and we started to meet them and then the challenge games obviously stopped then!

"They're definitely a different animal (now), they have a very solid brand of football. Some of the younger teams might go down to play them in a challenge and it's the same.

"I remember Pat O'Shea, a few years ago, saying that was something they wanted to develop and they've really put their own stamp on it.

"They are a very good team and they have a very good squad as well. At one stage they had (Colm) Cooper, (Kieran) O'Leary, a couple more in the forward line. Johnny Buckley was in the forwards when he started first, Brian Looney.

"Four forwards there - who are you going to mark? Where are you going to start?

"They have kind of gone younger again now - (Tony) Brosnan, Gavin O'Shea. They're going young again, so we'll have our work cut out.

"They're like ourselves. They've seen the older lads winning and probably want to get some themselves."

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