Nemo Rangers 0-14 Duhallow 2-7
IT took one moment of football artistry from Mark Cronin to get Nemo over the line in this Bon Secours Cork Premier SFC semi-final as they saw off a dogged Duhallow side at Páirc Uí Rinn.
When Mark Ellis levelled the game in the 63rd minute with a fisted goal Duhallow look set to take the champions to extra time but Cronin had other ideas as he manufactured a wonderful point that ensured the champions will have the opportunity to retain their title.
The wind conditions were ferocious right from throw-in and with Duhallow wind-assisted they were expected to pose the champions problems.
No doubt the experience of Nemo helped them and consecutive points from Mark Cronin and Paul Kerrigan gave them a two-point lead in the seventh minute.
Duhallow looked tentative but a Paul Walsh point their broke their duck in the 13th minute with former Cork football star Donnacha O’Connor adding another white flag a minute later.
Nemo continued to show resilience in defence but as the half matured Duhallow began winning more possession and O’Connor showed all his experience to kick his side ahead for the first time five minutes from the break.
The Trabeg side found inspiration once again with Barry O’Driscoll kicking a wonderful equalising point in the 29th minute.
Cork star Luke Connolly contributed little for Nemo in the opening 30 minutes but that was down to some outstanding defence from John McLoughlin of Kanturk.
Fellow Kanturk player Mark Ellis finished the half in style with a stunning point that saw Duhallow go in at the break leading by the minimum 0-6 to 0-5.
On the restart Nemo were expected to take control but Paul Walsh almost shocked them two minutes into the half before he was dispossessed by Kieran Histon.
On the next Nemo possession Colin O’Brien kicked a point that was followed by another white flag from Jack Horgan.
The divisional side to their credit were battling hard and when Donnacha O’Connor got through on goal in the 40th minute his shot went inches wide of the right post.
On the next possession, Duhallow exposed slack Nemo defending when a fabulous Jerry O’Connor solo run saw him assist the perfect pass to Seamus Hickey who guided the ball past the bewildered Micheal Aodh Martin.
Amazingly Nemo had a chance to respond on their next possession when Mark Cronin had an open goal at his mercy but instead decided to pass it to Luke Connolly who to be fair couldn’t have envisaged the attempted assist as the ball went wide.
Donnacha O’Connor saw red in the 47th minute for a second yellow card and that certainly didn’t help his sides cause coming down the stretch.
The class of Nemo then took over as they kicked five unanswered points that saw them command a 0-13 to 1-7 lead deep into injury time.
Then came the Ellis goal that looked like taking the game to extra time before the outstanding O’Donovan sealed it at the death with his majestic point.
The sound of the final whistle brought relief to the Nemo camp as manager Paul O’Donovan praised his troops.
“To be fair conditions didn’t help either side and credit to Duhallow they dug deep over the hour but semi-finals are all about the result whether it is by one point or 10.
“We were tested but the lads stood up and when we needed the key scores the lads were not found wanting,” said Paul O’Donovan.
Scorers for Nemo Rangers: M Cronin 0-4 (0-1 f), P Kerrigan 0-3, L Connolly 0-2 (0-1 m, 0-1 45), C Horgan 0-2 (0-1 m), J Horgan, C O’Brien, B O’Driscoll 0-1 each.
Duhallow: S Hickey, M Ellis 1-1 each, D O’Connor 0-2 (0-1 f), P Walsh, F O’Connor, C O’Callaghan 0-1 each.
NEMO: M A Martin; A Cronin, K Histon, B Cripps; K O’Donovan, S Cronin, J Horgan; P Morgan, J McDermott; B O’Driscoll, R Dalton, C O’Brien; M Cronin, L Connolly, P Kerrigan.
Subs: C Horgan for R Dalton (42), A O’Reilly for B Cripps (50), A O’Donovan for P Morgan (48).
DUHALLOW: P Doyle (Knocknagree); M Mahoney (Knocknagree); J McLoughlin (Kanturk), D O’Mahony (Knocknagree); K Cremin (Boherbue), S Hickey (Millstreet), B Daly (Newmarket); P Walsh (Kanturk), M Ellis (Kanturk); C O’Callaghan (Dromtarriffe), E McSweeney (Knocknagree), F O’Connor (Knocknagree); J O’Connor (Boherbue), D O’Connor (Ballydesmond), S Hickey (Rockchapel).
Subs: A Browne (Newmarket) for F O’Connor (42), C O’Keeffe (Newmarket) for S Hickey (59).
Referee: Alan Long (Arigideen Rangers).