'I can't see why we can't increase from 80 fans at GAA games to 400'

'I can't see why we can't increase from 80 fans at GAA games to 400'
Press and fans at the Valley Rovers' and Nemo Rangers' Bon Secours Cork Premier SFC match at Cloughduv. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

LUKE CONNOLLY’S 2-3 in Nemo Rangers’ opening round win over Valley Rovers in the Bon Secours Senior Football Championship at Cloughduv at the weekend was all the more praiseworthy when put in context.

“What many people didn’t know was that he had been out injured for the past month,” said manager Paul O’Donovan

“He had no training done, bar a midweek session, and that was his first outing. Luke’s finishing was superb.”

Luke Connolly of Nemo Rangers shoots to score his side's third goal against Valley Rovers last weekend. Picture: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Luke Connolly of Nemo Rangers shoots to score his side's third goal against Valley Rovers last weekend. Picture: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

The champions needed Connolly’s goals, one in either half at critical moments, with O’Donovan’s son, Conor, scoring the opener after only four minutes.

That came immediately after Jack Walsh tucked away a well-taken goal for Valleys just 30 seconds before.

“I thought we were very sloppy for their goal, though the Valleys player finished well.

“Paul Kerrigan made a great run and cross for Conor to knock in our first.

“For the second Paul did very well to turn the ball over and played a great ball into Luke, the right man in the right place and at the right time.”

Connolly pounced four minutes from the break to leave Nemo 2-2 to 1-3 in front.

“The third goal clinched it for us. It came from a good pass down the line from Barry O’Driscoll.

“Luke had the pace to turn his man and when he got in then he stitched it for a super finish.”

That shoved the holders 3-4 to 1-5 ahead entering the closing quarter before running out 3-8 to 1-9 winners.

Picture: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Picture: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Douglas defeated Bishopstown 1-14 to 1-9 in the other game in the group.

Next up Nemo face the Town and Valleys take on Douglas.

And despite the result, O’Donovan believes the Innishannon club are still very much in the frame to qualify.

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see Valleys come out of the group.

“I think they will have something to say before this is done and dusted.

“There will be good games between themselves and Douglas and Bishopstown.”

Nemo were down five first-choice players though two or three are expected back the next day.

“The lads who came in did well and will add to our options. I’m pleased that we got off to a winning start because that was important.

“It was close enough in the first half, but once we opened up a gap I thought it was never going to close.

“It was trying to get through it as best we could, avoid more injuries and I was happy from that point of view.

“We certainly have a lot of work to do. Games should bring us on, but the difficulty now is trying to get games between now and the second round of fixtures.

“I don’t think that will be possible because most teams will be involved in championship even if you tried to go outside the county.

“We need to improve our fitness levels and our game management, things like that, but that is within us, I believe.”

Kieran Histon of Nemo Rangers in action against Eoin Delaney of Valley Rovers. Picture: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Kieran Histon of Nemo Rangers in action against Eoin Delaney of Valley Rovers. Picture: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

The Nemo boss believes a number of changes in the restrictions attached to playing would help.

“I don’t see any reason why the present number of around 80 spectators couldn’t go up to 400 or 500 and still apply social distancing.

“The atmosphere was more like a challenge match even though both sides played the game in the right frame of mind.

“I think the dressing rooms have to be opened up even for players needing to use the toilets. It must be looked at seriously. We were told before the game that once you go on the pitch you can’t come off.

“We were able to warm-up on one pitch and then go onto the main pitch which was fine. But, if you do your warm-up on the pitch, the guys like the strength and condition and goalkeeping coaches can’t go on.

Valley Rovers' players getting ready in the car park at Cloughhuv. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Valley Rovers' players getting ready in the car park at Cloughhuv. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

“Only five members of the management team are allowed and I think that’s another matter which needs looking at.

“You could end up having issues when warming up on the main pitch without your specialist coaches. I think opening up the facilities a bit more would help, no doubt about that,” O’Donovan concluded.

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