SUNDAY’S Cork SFC semi-final between near neighbours Nemo Rangers and Douglas, provided the weather conditions allow for it, could be a slick game of football.
In fairness to Mick Evans, he has always produced teams that play an expansive, adventurous brand of football, even as far back as his days managing Coláiste Chríost Rí to a host of Cork and Munster colleges titles.
Evans is generally extremely tactically sound and will, therefore, have Douglas in a really good place as they seek a spot in their first county senior football final since 2008.
On that occasion, they lost the decider to Nemo, but will feel they possess the players required to avenge such a defeat on Sunday.
Additionally, there is a thought-process within football circles on Leeside that Nemo are there for the taking.
And that Douglas might be exactly the type of unit Paul O’Donovan’s charges could come unstuck against, given their dynamic qualities.
Evans is probably Douglas’ greatest weapon, though. He has always been a master at motivating teams to peak for specific fixtures and he will have his outfit tuned to absolute perfection for this clash.
He is probably one of the shrewdest football brains in the county and is ruthless as well.
Yet, he has the required man-management skills to ensure each of his players will hit the Páirc Uí Rinn turf, brimming with belief.
Douglas took out a serious Ballincollig team in the last eight.
And Evans’ clever game-management was a factor in that given how effectively he reshuffled his team to deny Ballincollig space in vital areas via a defensive lockdown.
Ballincollig’s shooting may have cost them, but Evans was wise enough to make the necessary switches to protect the lead Douglas had accrued up to that point.
Conor Russell, operating at full-forward, scored the goal which gave Douglas the sufficient breathing space they needed on the day to reach this stage in their campaign.
Yet, he will likely face Aidan O’Reilly on Sunday, a man with a mountain of experience at this level and O’Reilly will appreciate how focused he will have to be to guard against Russell causing Nemo similar headaches.
Russell plundered 1-3 including 0-1 from a free against Ballincollig and so O’Donovan’s Nemo will be conscious of the damage he could inflict upon them.
However, Nemo will be mindful of the need to limit the number of possessions Russell gains by cutting off the supply lines to him.
That in mind, Nemo are bound to be aware that they will have to curb the influence of midfield duo and brothers, Niall and Brian Hartnett.
Both men, particularly Niall, had a massive influence on Douglas’s victory over Ballincollig.
Yet, that pairing should encounter Peter Morgan, who had been carrying a knock in their triumph over St Finbarr’s, and James McDermott.
Morgan, when injury-free, is a superb midfielder while McDermott’s display against the defending champions in the previous round was truly exceptional.
Despite the shockingly poor weather conditions, McDermott’s handling and link play were immense.
In fact, he was probably Nemo’s most proficient performer.
Therefore, the battle between these pairings could be definitive given the standard of attacking talent within both panels.
If Douglas were to dominate the middle-third, the likes of Shane Kingston, who performed very well irrespective of having a chest infection in Douglas’s previous championship outing, and the brilliant Sean Powter, could profit.
The likes of Kingston and Powter will obviously offer themselves as outlets should the Hartnetts earn clean possessions and Douglas will be able to generate more scoring opportunities through these avenues.
However, should Morgan and McDermott thrive, then Nemo have the score-takers in their ranks to reach another final.
Obviously, it is highly unlikely either of the midfield duos will dominate for the entire match.
Yet, if either of the pairings even win that sector at a 55% possession rate, it might be enough to see their respective side through to the county showpiece, provided their attacking teammates make sure such efforts were worthwhile, further out the field.
If Sunday is to be a dry, warm day, you would wonder if that might suit the younger legs of the Hartnetts in this regard.
In saying that, the experience of Morgan and McDermott should be of huge benefit to Nemo no matter what the weather is like on the day.
And another factor is Nemo’s inconsistencies in terms of their performances this season, an element O’Donovan spoke about prior to his side overcoming St Finbarr’s.
“Against Dohenys this year, we played well for 15 to 20 minutes and then had a poor second half so we’ve been trying to work on that. It’s about getting a 60-minute performance out of the team,” O’Donovan explained.
“I don’t think we’re looking for any one thing.
“What I’d like to see is the lads play to their potential, which we have all over the field. If we can harness that and it’s hard to do that, getting everybody on the same page, then we’ll be there or thereabouts. It’s not so much looking for a spark but getting consistency into our performances.”
There is no doubt Evans will be seeking consistency from his charges as well. And if both teams display that consistency and play to their potential, football fans should be in for a treat.
But the outcome might boil down to which midfield partnership soars.