PAUL O’DONOVAN experienced a roller-coaster of a ride in his first county final as Nemo Rangers manager.
He had seen his charges power to a commanding 10-point lead by half-time, increasing it to 11 within a minute on the resumption, but then the game changed.
“It’s a mixture of relief and joy. It’s all about winning and we’ll take a county no matter how,” he said afterwards.
O’Donovan had special reason to praise the contributions of two players at opposite ends of the pitch for this latest county title.
“In the first-half, there’s no better player than Luke Connolly to get on the end of those goal-scoring chances and tuck them away.
“They both came from us winning their kick-outs and while it was something we didn’t necessarily focus on, we still were able to push players up the field to contest the kicks.”
Connolly’s first goal was the work of a genuine finisher, coolly stroking the ball low to the corner of the net past keeper Patrick Doyle.
The second was less emphatic as Doyle prevented his initial shot, but Connolly kept his nerve to slot home the rebound.
Then, as Duhallow abandoned all caution in the hectic second-half, it was the turn of goalkeeper Micheal Aodh Martin to show his class in the same goal.
First, he turned Anthony O’Connor’s shot over the crossbar before denying Daniel O’Connell as the clock turned towards the 60-minute mark.
“They were very important saves because we needed to keep our goal intact.
“Once the lead didn’t go below four points I was happy enough, with the scoreboard anyway, but certainly not with our overall display in that second-half.
“In fairness to the defence, they stood up well, when Duhallow started driving at us, but what was frustrating was the chances we didn’t take after half-time to put the game to bed.
“We missed a couple of goal-scoring opportunities and had chances to add on a few points as well, but didn’t take them.”
O’Donovan won two counties as a player in 1988 and 1993, but this was his first as manager in his second season at the helm.
“It’s just as pleasing, but it’s all about the players. We’ll enjoy the celebrations, which I’m sure will go for a couple of days.”
And for good measure, his two sons, Kevin at wing-back and Alan at midfield, also made telling contributions to another Nemo success story.