Corkery expects Nemo's clash at Croker with Corofin to be a humdinger

Corkery expects Nemo's clash at Croker with Corofin to be a humdinger
Colin Corkery in full flight for Nemo at Croke Park. Picture: Maurice O'Mahony

COLIN CORKERY, who captained Nemo Rangers to the 2003 All-Ireland Club title, reckons Saturday's showdown with Corofin is going to be one to savour.

“I think it will be a humdinger of a final. Corofin are an exceptional side with very good foot passing ability. They'll play ball and Croke Park will suit them as well as suiting us,” he said.

The Cork and Munster champions are gearing up for the big game, which has a 2pm star, as Nemo go in search of a record eighth title.

The recent 'beast from the east' meant Corkery was holed up in London, but former colleague and current selector, Stephen O'Brien, sent on a few links of Corofin to watch.

“There were games from this year and last season. My first impression is that they are also a physical side.

“I also saw their semi-final, which was another strange match. The thing about semi-finals is that they are there to win, no matter what way you get around it,” Corkery stressed.

He's well-placed to comment on the current crop, having been a selector for three years.

“They are great lads, to be fair. We took over when things were at a very low ebb and started to build it up again.

“The players have really responded to the lads in charge for the past couple of years.

“My last game was the Munster final defeat by Clonmel Commercials and the players have shown great character to recover from that setback.

“And, I would think, for the first time since I was playing, we have strength-in-depth with a great panel of players there now.

“That makes a huge difference, particularly in the way the game is played these days.” 

Nemo's character also surfaced in the semi-final against Slaughtneil, who dictated matters early on and held their opponents scoreless in the opening 20 minutes until Nemo settled.

“I wasn't at the game because I was working, but I managed to watch it on TV. Again, the character was there to recover from the opening 20 minutes and the lads almost won it in normal time before running away with it in extra-time.” 

It's 15 years since the Andy Merrigan Cup came to Cork after Nemo defeated Mayo's Crossmolina by 0-14 to 1-9.

Corkery top-scored with 0-6, four from play, with Alan Cronin chipping in with 0-4 and Joe Kavanagh 0-3.

“It was more relief than anything at the time because of what happened in the two previous years, when we lost both finals.

“It was some achievement to reach three finals in-a-row. Crossmaglen had won three in-a-row in the past, but we were just trying to win one.

“Looking back now, we should have won it in 02 and probably lost in 03, but that's how it goes.

“Having been there before was massive. You can't beat that kind of experience and five or six of the lads were also involved in 1994.

“The hunger was there and we had a fierce determination. Nothing really had to be said. You could feel it. Everyone knew their roles and what had to be done.

“We had an exceptional team really and it would have been a shame not to have won one.

“The Kavanaghs were there, Joe, Larry and Derek. We had Stephen O'Brien, Kevin Cahill, who had come from Meath, and the two Cronins. Billy Morgan was the manager.” 

Nemo's two-point success reflected the degree of difficulty in winning an All-Ireland.

“It was a strange game, up and down. Yet, I knew going into the second-half that we weren't going to lose.

“In the end, we won by a couple of points. I got the second last score and Joe got the other.

“Once we stopped them from getting goals in the second-half, I knew we had it. Don Heaphy was the keeper back then,” Corkery concluded.

Later on Saturday, Cork footballers play their final home division 2 league game, when relegation-threatened Clare visit Páirc Uí Rinn for a 7pm start. It's an unfortunate clash of fixtures. The Cork-Clare game is live on eir sport. Cork wrap up their schedule away to Roscommon the following Sunday.

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