Thursday 18 October 2018

Nemo's great expectations have helped us - O'Driscoll

Barry O’Driscoll is confident Nemo will live up to expectations on Saturday. Photo: Sportsfile
Barry O’Driscoll is confident Nemo will live up to expectations on Saturday. Photo: Sportsfile

Michael Verney

When you take to the pitch with Nemo Rangers, there's always going to be a level of expectancy.

Heading the All-Ireland club SFC roll of honour with seven titles, it's hardly any wonder that the Cork city club are hungry for more success after 15 years without scaling the mountain.

As manager Larry Kavanagh said in the build-up to their surprise Munster club SFC final win over reigning All-Ireland champions Dr Crokes, "Nemo are a cocky oul' shower, we always think we are going to win."

For Barry O'Driscoll, it's a "great pressure" to have but the Rebel attacker feels that no matter what happens in their AIB All-Ireland club SFC semi-final against Slaughtneil on Saturday, the best is yet to come.

"People around the club would probably feel we're good enough and they're driving us on in that regard but I wouldn't feel pressure as in this group has to do it now because this group is still growing. Hopefully we can progress past a semi-final but I think there'll be more in this team for the next few years," O'Driscoll says.

A 16th Munster title win was underpinned by the performance of their rising stars, the likes of chief score-getter Luke Connolly, goalkeeper Micheál Aodh Martin (son of Fianna Fáil leader Micheál) and wing-back Kevin Fulignati but there were also a few experienced faces to the fore.

None more so than Paddy Gumley, the experienced Cavan native who switched allegiance to Nemo three years ago and "came through the over-age system" starting off in the Junior C side before moving to Junior A, intermediate and then senior.

"He was originally tipping around as a wing-back with the Junior Cs, just to pass the time I think," O'Driscoll says. "He said he'd give wing-back a shot. After a bit of a spell people started picking up on him, 'Who's this fella?'

"They were trying to find out a bit about him. As soon as they knew something about him, they said, 'He's not playing with the juniors anymore - he's coming down with the seniors!' He's a classy player and you'd get that from him straight away."

Another elder statesmen is 39-year-old Tomás Ó Sé but the Kerry legend, whose children play underage with the club, has been welcomed with open arms and is a "natural fit" despite being on foreign ground.

Familiarity (and success) often breeds contempt, however, and if Nemo were to jump the final two hurdles, the 28-year-old feels fewer would share in celebration of an eighth All-Ireland win than you'd expect despite Cork football requiring a shot in the arm after some time in the doldrums.

Benefit

"It depends who you'd ask! I do think it would benefit Cork football just because it's a Cork team winning and that's good for Cork. Whether other people around the county would be happy, I'd say it's a good mix," the U-21 All-Ireland winner says.

"We had supporters from other clubs that I wouldn't have expected the day against Crokes. People would rally in behind it a bit, if you did win, but as soon as you won they'd probably clap and that would be the end of it. You're not going to hear any more about it.

"Other clubs have had their success too but we've somehow managed to stay around and to stay relevant. Don't ask me how. A main part of it is that fellas who would have played before are still around and helping out and coaching which feeds into an awful lot.

"It's a very easy way of keeping fellas around because they see that your coaches are Steven O'Brien or Billy Morgan or Jimmy Kerrigan or Dinny Allen or whoever it may be. These were fellas' idols growing up so of course you're going to want to stay around playing for them."

Irish Independent

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