Nemo determined to banish the pain of Munster final loss to Clonmel

Nemo determined to banish the pain of Munster final loss to Clonmel

Nemo's Kevin Fulignati, Alan O'Donovan and Peter Morgan after losing to Clonmel four years ago. 

Sunday, Munster club football final Nemo Rangers v Clonmel Commercials, Dungarvan, 2pm.

NO matter what way you approach Nemo's bid for a 17th provincial title it always seems to steer you back to the dramatic events of 2015.

And yet in the space of four seasons the landscape has changed so much that its relevance has been seriously diluted.

Apart from factoring in that Nemo have since won a couple of counties, a Munster and played in an All-Ireland final, both sides have undergone radical overhauls, as well.

The Cork champions' defence, for example, is unrecognisable in that only keeper Micheál Aodh Martin and full-back Aidan O'Reilly are the lone survivors.

Briain Murphy and Alan Cronin are newcomers in the full-back line as are Kevin O'Donovan, Stephen Cronin and Jack Horgan, who came on in attack, in the half-back sector.

There's a new midfielder duo in Alan O'Donovan, who was wing back in 2015, and Roscommon's James McDermott while Luke Connolly, who didn't start, Mark Cronin and Conor Horgan are fresh faces up front.

Clonmel Commercials are expected to include only half-a-dozen players in their starting line-up, including a new keeper in Michael O'Reilly and full-back line of Danny Madigan, Liam Ryan and Cathal McGeever.

Like Nemo, the Tipperary champions parade an attack-minded half-back line of Kevin Fahey, Jamie Peters and possibly Seamus Kennedy with namesake Conal at midfield.

Padraic Looram and Ross Peters, in the half-forward line, as well as Colman Kennedy and Sean O'Connor are other newcomers to a side that won't lack confidence.

Nemo manager Paul O'Donovan expects to be able to select from a full deck.

“Obviously, all the hard work is done at this stage. Since the Stacks game we had two very good sessions the following week and took one night off.

“We had players involved with the U21 hurlers last weekend so they didn't train on the Saturday, but were back twice this week.

“We had three starters and two substitutes with the hurlers and they all came through, thankfully, so we're clear for Sunday with a clean bill of health.

“Colin O'Brien trained with us on Tuesday after a hamstring injury forced him off against Stacks and I'd be confident he'll be available,” he said.

The finalists experienced contrasting games to reach the decider, Nemo ploughing through Austin Stacks, winning comfortably by 2-17 to 0-5, but Clonmel had to pull out all the stops to pip St Joseph's, scraping through by 0-9 to 0-7, scoring the last four points.

“I normally like to see teams in the flesh, but I didn't have that opportunity on this occasion.

“We played them in a challenge match, but it meant nothing because they were missing all their hurlers and others and we were missing guys as well. It was irrelevant really, just a run out.

“I saw video footage of their semi-final win over St Joseph's and they were very impressive.

“To go to Milltown-Malbay and beat them in their own home pitch, coming from two points down to win by two, is very impressive, especially as the conditions were difficult, strong winds and a heavy pitch. I expected as much from them.” 

Clonmel's team is laced with inter-county experience, football and hurling, as O'Donovan outlined in identifying the source of their main threats to Nemo's bid for another title.

“The Kennedys form the the backbone of their team, four in all and I think three of them are brothers and the other is a cousin.

“Obviously Michael Quinlivan and Jason Lonergan are serious players, too.

“Qunlivan wore 11, but he could pop up anywhere. He started midfield against the wind before moving to full-forward with it.

“It's hard to say where he'll play. I think he'll pop up wherever they need him because he's that type of player, who can play anywhere.

“Clonmel are a big, physical side. There's half-a-dozen well over 6ft, some 6ft-3in, and we're not blessed with that kind of physique.

“They also look to be strong runners, strong ball carriers, particularly Seamus and Jack Kennedy and it's the same with Quinlivan and Lonergan.

“I've no doubt they're looking at us and getting their match-ups right and we'll be doing the same with their forwards.

“It will be like a game of chess at the start before it settles us down.

“The middle eight will decide it, midfield, the half-back and half-forward lines.

“Our half-backs are playing well, getting on the ball, but it's the same for the others and we will have to repeat that.” 

Nemo return to Fraher Field in Dungarvan for the first time since that fateful 2015 season, when they opened their Munster campaign in the south-east.

“The last time we played down there was four years ago against Stradbally, who had only won the Waterford title the night before and that was very unfair on them.

“We came out with a win and would be more than happy to do the same on Sunday.

“I work with a few guys from Fr O'Neill's who played hurling there last weekend and they said the pitch was good enough, a bit slippery on top, but you'd expect that.” 

O'Donovan is happy with Nemo's form going into the contest, which offers an All-Ireland club semi-final with the champions, Corofin, as a reward in early January.

“I was delighted with the performance against Stacks though you'd have to factor in how well were they prepared for the game.

“You'd say a Kerry team is always well prepared, but they only knew at 4pm the previous Sunday that they were playing, so how do you lift a team for that?

“I think it was a case of us playing very well and probably not tested at all coming into this game because Stacks weren't at the level we were at."

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