Vintage Ó Sé helps Nemo find a bit extra
Nemo Rangers 2-19 Slaughtneil 1-14 AIB All-Ireland Club SFC Semi-Final
Nemo Rangers have won more All-Ireland club football titles than anyone else and they kept their hopes of collecting an eighth title alive in O'Moore Park on Saturday by seeing off Slaughtneil of Derry, after extra-time, to set up a St Patrick's Day showdown with Galway champions Corofin.
On a bitterly cold day, it swung wildly in both directions before Nemo made a break for the finish line in the first period of extra-time with seven points without reply in a devastating 10-minute spell.
Their heroes were dotted around the pitch. Barry O'Driscoll was exemplary from frees, Luke Connolly finished with 2-5 and sub Jack Donovan popped up with what looked like the winning score in normal time.
Paul Kerrigan grew into the game and finally got on top in his fascinating duel with Chrissy McKaigue and Kerry legend Tomás Ó Sé was the official Man of the Match with a typically classy performance from wing-back.
Living in Cork, Ó Sé threw his lot in with Nemo a couple of years back and on Saturday he gave the type of display that has long since marked him out as one of the greats.
When things were going against Nemo in the first-half, he came up the field and punched a badly needed point. When they started gaining momentum in the second-half, he was central to it, kicking another point, winning breaks and playing a crucial part in their first goal.
In the year that he turns 40, he'll make another Croke Park appearance in the colours of a Cork club. It's quite the story.
Nemo recovered from an incredibly sluggish opening half - one that saw Slaughtneil absolutely dominate possession - to take over after half-time.
The lead changed hands on a couple of occasions in the final quarter with a free from the classy Chris Bradley with the last kick of the game sending it to extra-time.
Slaughtneil lorded it early on with Shane McGuigan, Brian Cassidy and Bradley all on target to lead by four points to no score after 17 minutes.
Their patient and deliberate build-up play was frustrating Nemo and it was 20 minutes before they got their first score from a Luke Connolly free.
Nemo rallied briefly after that, but Slaughtneil led 0-7 to 0-4 at the break and were full value for it.
The tempo upped considerably on the restart. Nemo hit 1-5 in a blistering seven-minute spell, the goal coming from Connolly after a blunder in the Slaughtneil square in the 42nd minute.
But Slaughtneil came roaring back. Two points from Cassidy and a goal from Cormac O'Doherty put them back into the lead. Two frees from O'Driscoll nudged Nemo in front, but with a minute remaining Se McGuigan got a fist to a Chris Bradley '45' to level things again.
From the next attack Donovan looked to have won it for Nemo, but Bradley held his nerve with a 63rd-minute free to send the game into extra-time.
Here it was all Nemo. Connolly (four), O'Driscoll, Kerrigan and centre-back Stephen Cronin all pointed to open up an unassailable lead and they put the cherry on top late on when Connolly pounced for his second goal.
SCORERS - Nemo Rangers: L Connolly 2-5 (4f), B O'Driscoll 0-5 (4f), P Kerrigan 0-3, T O Se 0-2, C Horgan, J Horgan, J Donovan and S Cronin 0-1 each Slaughtneil: C Bradley 0-9 (6f), C O'Doherty 1-0, Shane McGuigan and B Cassidy 0-2 each Se McGuigan 0-1
NEMO RANGERS - M Martin; K O'Donovan, A O'Reilly, A Cronin; T O Se, S Cronin, K Fulignati; A O'Donovan, J Horgan; B O'Driscoll, P Kerrigan, C O'Brien; L Connolly, P Gumley, C Dalton. Subs: C Horgan for Gumley (21), J Donovan for J Horgan (58), M Dorgan for A O'Donovan (63), C Kiely for C Dalton (77), R Donovan for Martin (77), A Grainey for Connolly (81)
SLAUGHTNEIL - A McMullen; P McNeill, B Rodgers, K McKaigue; F McEldowney, C McKaigue, K Feeney; P Bradley, P Cassidy; Shane McGuigan, R Bradley, M McGrath; C Bradley, C O'Doherty, B Cassidy. Sub: Se McGuigan for McGrath (45), B McGuigan for McEldowney (46), G Bradley for R Bradley (65), C McAllister for Feeney (68), P McGuigan for O'Doherty (70)
REF - M Deegan (Laois)