ANOTHER stone-cold classic yesterday saw Nemo Rangers’ sharpshooting see off St Finbarr’s.
The wides tally was 13 for the losers and just five for the newly crowned champions, which told the tale of woe for the Barrs.
Nemo have some of the most experienced forwards in the county, but more importantly the most clinical... to the tune of 4-12 from play here.
Paul Kerrigan was on the periphery of the game in the first half, hounded by Sam Ryan, yet finished with 1-2, making him their top-scorer from play. Not only that, he made vital runs back to force turnovers and drove out in added time when St Finbarr’s were hunting a goal to complete their comeback.
Luke Connolly was given plenty of it by Jamie Burns but nailed a point to edge Nemo ahead for the first time in the 25th minute and a killer goal, buried expertly from a tight angle, before the break. Even in patches, his class told.
Barry O’Driscoll sat deep but lobbed over a score and set up 1-1. Sub Adrian Greaney, a Kerry man on the UCC panel when they lifted Andy Scannell in 2011, chipped in with a goal, while Ciarán Dalton and Paddy Gumley shared 0-3.
Huge credit too must go to Jack Horgan for his contribution of 1-1 and his ability to get his hands on the ball in the first half when Nemo were under siege for long spells. Slicing through from midfield he had his fingerprints on five scores. That was decisive.
It was the bluebloods of Cork football’s 20th title, and arguably the most entertaining final they’ve been involved in. For the Blues it was heartbreak. Again. Like last week’s draw, it was a game they’ll feel they could have won.
Michael Shields conducted their attack with aplomb in the opening exchanges, with Ian Maguire picking up where he left off to lord the skies and Stephen Sherlock was a serious threat every time he got the ball.
After the death of club legend Kevin McTernan on Friday following on illness, there was no shortage of added motivation. They started like a train and led 1-1 early on.
It was in stark contrast to trailing eight points to nil seven days earlier. An injury to Nemo’s Cian McWhinny perhaps broke their momentum, but most costly was the concession of a goal to outstanding midfielder Horgan.
The Barrs could have kept a punted pass in play but let it drift wide. They were punished when they lost the subsequent kick-out, with Horgan marauding through to level it 1-1 apiece. The Togher outfit monopolised possession on their own restarts, with Maguire in some dominant form, yet the only three of their kick-outs they failed to secure in the opening 40 minutes cost them 1-2.
Another couple of short kick-outs midway through the second half were turned over for another 1-1, Barry O’Driscoll pointing and sub Adrian Greaney stitching the goal to shove them 4-11 to 1-8 ahead after 45 minutes. Nemo would only manage one more point but it was typical of them to maximise their opportunities at key stages. Now had they lost they’d have been wondering how they let the Barrs back. They didn’t show the coolness you’d associate with them in the latter stages, losing all the breaks.
With a 12-point lead it should have been game-over entering the third quarter, but sub Eoghan Finn pounced on a stray kick-out to slip in a goal and give the underdogs a lifeline.
Even with five minutes remaining and Nemo 4-12 to 2-10 in front, thanks to Gumley’s second point – with Jack Horgan again involved – there should have been no way back. Another goal electrified the Páirc – Sherlock’s free squirming into the net after Dylan Quinn was fouled at close range – and when Quinn made it 4-12 to 3-13, with a goal chance that whizzed over, the Barrs looked likely ‘unlikely’ winners.
They did manage to get the ball, but couldn’t get the pass right on the run and once Kerrigan got possession, Nemo’s experience allowed them to run the clock.
The Barrs were left wondering what might have been, particularly the injuries which robbed them of Eoin Comyns and reduced Cillian Meyers Murray to a cameo. They contributed hugely to two epics but that won’t console veterans like Shields or Robert O’Mahony, a bundle of energy and scorer of two points.
Nemo have their eyes on a Munster crown, but will need to tighten up significantly in defence. They’re on the other side of the draw to the Kerry champions so will fancy their chances of making the provincial final all the same. Confidence is never in short supply in Trabeg.