IT'S a feature across all sports that, while the players and management may change, the team’s culture still remains.
That can work in a negative way as well as a positive one – witness the Boston Red Sox’s long wait for a World Series or the way that Mayo seem destined never to win Sam Maguire – but what it shows is that there is more than success than what we see in front of us.
Consider the fact that Nemo Rangers were founded in 1922 but didn’t win a Cork county SFC title for the first half-century of their existence only to win 21 in the 47 years since. Since that breakthrough in 1972, players have been coming into teams where success is a baseline expectation rather than a hope or an objective.
In both the 2015 final replay win over Castlehaven and yesterday’s victory, Nemo used 18 players, but only 11 were common to both. A turnover of seven players in the space of four years would allow for the excuse of a transition period in the majority of sporting organisations but for Nemo it’s just the way things are – one player moves on and another comes off the conveyor belt to take over.
It’s the same with managers. Their last five county championship victories have come under as many different bosses – Ephie Fitzgerald in 2008, Eddie Kirwan in 2010, Steven O’Brien in 2015, Larry Kavanagh in 2017 and Paul O’Donovan this year.
Given that county championship wins are seen as a matter of course in Trabeg, the Munster and All-Ireland club crowns take on extra significance and the wait for a national title since 2003 is, by some distance, the longest since their first in 1973. If that gap is to bridged, the Nemo management will know that there will need to improvements.
That they scored just two points in the second half is almost unthinkable, but that they managed such a return and still win is down to two brilliant saves by goalkeeper Micheál Martin while full-back Aidan O’Reilly got in some very important interventions.
In the second half, Nemo won just six of their own 11 kickouts, while nine shots on goal resulted in two points, four wides, two saves by Duhallow Patrick Doyle and another point effort dropped short into the goalkeeper’s hands.
However, while the scoreboard reading of 2-6 to 0-2 at half-time was very positive, Nemo had had four wides from point attempts and one from a Luke Connolly goal effort as well as two more shots which hit the post. They did win four of six kickouts before half-time though and claimed seven of Duhallow’s 13, including marks by Aidan O’Reilly and Colin O’Brien, both directly leading to Connolly’s two goals.
Statistics like Nemo posted in the second half would be incompatible with success for most teams, but though they were under pressure, they never allowed Duhallow to come to within a score, with the divisional side snatching at chances, particularly in the third quarter.
Despite being on the back foot, Nemo believed they would win and they did. They will need to improve in Munster, but they had to room to do so.