'I couldn't watch a game or look at a result after we were beaten'

'I couldn't watch a game or look at a result after we were beaten'
Corofin’s Ian Burke with Micheal Aodh Martin of Nemo Rangers. Picture: INPHO/Gary Carr

EVERY now and then, you hear of a shock result in matches. 

One in particular in last year’s Cork senior football championship raised a few eyebrows - the quarter-final between Castlehaven and Nemo Rangers. The west Cork side came out on top 1-11 to 0-4. It wasn’t just the lop-sided nature; the reigning Munster and Cork champions Nemo didn’t register a score until midway through the second half.

Very few saw it coming.

“We were scratching our heads looking for reasons,” said goalkeeper Micheál Aodh Martin. “It wasn’t a case of not preparing. We felt we did everything right. 

"We upped it a gear. We were coming off the back of an All-Ireland club final appearance and a Munster club win and we rolled into the year with momentum. We felt like we were flying.

“You could be mulling over it, but we weren’t at the pitch of the game on the day. Whatever you do beforehand doesn’t matter if you don’t bring that on match day. We came up against a Castlehaven team that beat us all over the park.

“Maybe we ran out of steam. We had no rest, it was a long season and ultimately that cost us. We were going up the country playing games and everything was going right for us. And then to fall flat was very disappointing. But you have to park it at some stage.” 

Picture: Larry Cummins
Picture: Larry Cummins

The vagaries of football, but undoubtedly, a bitter pill to swallow.

“I didn’t watch a game or look at a result after we were beaten. The first club game I watched was Corofin and Dr Crokes (St Patrick’s day). I didn’t watch any of the county championship being played out, I avoided it on twitter. But you hear results and fair play to the Barrs.

“My da would have been going down to those games but he wouldn’t even ask if I wanted to go because he knew the answer. The Barrs are a very good team, I was always of the view they would win it when they got to the final. 

"We played them the year before in the final, it went to a replay. We were lucky to get away the first day even though we had a lead. We put in a better performance the next day and still nearly got reeled in.” 

An opportunity now maybe to erase some of the hurt? Martin says their first-round opponents Valley Rover are a serious outfit.

“Our focus is totally on Valley Rovers and peaking on the April 6 but it is a tough draw. We know each other well. They have got the better of us in a couple of league games over the years. They are always formidable. 

"They have great size in their team as well as excellent footballers. So we are under no illusions how good they are.

“I was captain of a Nemo team that lost an U21 county final against Valley and a lot of them have graduated onto the senior team. I would have won a county U21 the year before beating them in the semi-final but it was role reversal the year after. So it was neck and neck.” 

Nemo Rangers secured the county U21 title last November, a significant victory given what had happened earlier in the year.

“It is very important the U21s won a county. There is a great group of young guys coming through who are great friends. It has added a lot to the squad this year. 

"Guys are looking over their shoulder. There is a natural expectation in Nemo. We know what success means. It is pushing on and winning things.

“I think no matter what age they are, they are all well aware who have gone before. I never saw this as a pressure. I hope those lads don’t. 

"It is more a healthy expectation of ourselves to do well. I feel very lucky to play with Nemo and the lads are the same.” 

Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

The Capwell side have a few injury scares, including Martin.

“I have a small tear in the groin. I’m not ruling myself out, but it will be 50/50. 

"It happened (with Cork) in the Donegal game but I was fearing worse. It will be three weeks between getting injured and the Valley Rovers game. At the same time, three weeks is a short window for recovery.

“I think Luke Connolly is out. Paul Kerrigan is carrying an injury but hopefully he will be okay. His is a strain but Luke is in trouble all right. This is a chance for the U21 guys. It is always the next man up attitude. 

"If I am not in goal, the guys behind me can come in. I made my senior debut against Dohenys in 2014 at the age of 18, and I haven’t missed a game since. I am hoping Valley Rovers won’t be the first one.” 

Finally, a word on Cork’s league campaign that saw them drop down to Division 3.

“It is very disappointing. We left ourselves with a lot to do. We started the league very badly, there is no getting around that. 

"We left a point behind us in Fermanagh, which ultimately was costly. You have to take responsibility that after four games we put ourselves in a bad position. We feel as a group we turned a bit of a corner and the last three performances were much more positive.”

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