Captain O'Reilly lays it on the line for Nemo ahead of city derby

Captain O'Reilly lays it on the line for Nemo ahead of city derby
Nemo Rangers captain Aidan O'Reilly. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

AIDAN O'REILLY hopes to follow in the illustrious footsteps of former Nemo Rangers county senior football championship winning captains at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday.

The 28-year-old defender is in his second season as leader of the troops and is bidding to repeat the achievements of current manager, Larry Kavanagh, who lifted the Andy Scannell Cup in 2000, and his predecessor, Stephen O'Brien, in 1993.

O'Reilly, who works for Laya Health Care in Little Island, already has two winners' medals from 2010 and 2015 as well as a Munster Club from 2010. Now he's keen to add his name to the impressive list of champion skippers.

Nemo's full-back is set to play an important role against St Finbarr's, for whom star forward, Stephen Sherlock, represents a major threat to the Trabeg club's ambitions of lifting a 20th title.

Sherlock is the Togher club's leading scorer with 0-24 from four games with 0-15 coming from frees.

“I marked him last year, when we had the wind in the first-half and got a few scores up.

“Then, the wind hit gale-force in the second-half and we really got pinned in our own half. We were struggling, but managed to get over the line.

“We'll see how it goes against Sherlock. If you concede any free around the 45 or inside it, he will stick it over. They were saying he had a 100% record in the championship last year.

“Our discipline has been pretty good though we've not been tested that much in tight games apart from UCC,” O'Reilly said.

Sunday's final is the latest chapter in the Nemo-Barr's rivalry, the captain having first sampled it in the final seven years ago.

“I remember they got a very good start before we crawled our way back into it.

“We also played them in a league final a couple of days later and it was another tight game.

“It's always intense against the 'Barr's because they're our next-door neighbours and there's a lot of history between the two clubs.

“I'm sure they're looking forward to the game in the same way we are. We lost to them in 2012, when the Barr's were the better side that day.

“People were saying we were going through a transition at the time, but it's not an excuse. I think we let our standards slip and weren't prepared well enough.”

After hitting five goals in their semi-final Duhallow, Nemo caught the other semi-final between the Barrs and defending champions, Carbery Rangers.

“The 'Barr's got a lot of men behind the ball to try and hit them on the counter-attack. I expect they'll double up on a couple of our lads.

“It's a big pitch so it will test how fit both teams are because Páirc Uí Rinn is smaller and tighter by comparison.

“Hopefully, there will be a good atmosphere because there were times in the past when you could hear your voice coming back at you.” 

Like all modern defenders, O'Reilly has adapted to the role-change of man-marking as opposed to taking up a position.

“You'd know a couple of days before the game who you'd be going to pick up so you'd do your bit of research and hope it will all go well on the day.

“You'd look at programmes, match reports and sure you'd probably have marked the same guy in previous games because teams don't change too much over the years.

“It makes no difference really to your position as your man could drift into full-forward or move to the corner, where it can feel like babysitting at times.

“And of course if he goes for a gallop out the field I'd have to follow him, within reason, though.

“If he wants to go back to his own full-back line, off with him. I'd go as far as half-way. Otherwise I'd only be getting nose bleeds,” O'Reilly joked.

Bishopstown's Denis Crowley is tackled by Nemo Rangers Cian McWhinny, Paul Kerrigan and Aidan O'Reilly. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Bishopstown's Denis Crowley is tackled by Nemo Rangers Cian McWhinny, Paul Kerrigan and Aidan O'Reilly. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Nemo's path to the final took in wins over O'Donovan Rossa, Bishopstown, Kiskeam, UCC and Duhallow, though the captain didn't complete the Kiskeam game.

“The memory is a bit fuzzy. I was coming out with the ball just before half-time, when one guy caught me around the neck which led to mild concussion.

“It was fine after a few days. I did a bit of running on the Thursday, but had to wait 10 days in all before getting involved in contact again.

“I was a bit anxious about it, but once you get your first shoulder, it's back to normal once more.” 

Nemo had routine wins in most of their outings with College providing their most difficult assignment to-date.

“That was definitely the toughest game of the championship, our biggest test. You'd know so much about club teams and a good bit about divisions, but with College teams, you just never know who're they're going to pull.

“They had a lot of Kerry lads, who would have been playing football, week in and week out, and they're all well able to play.

“We were definitely cautious going into that game. We tried to get as much information as we could.

“It was a high-scoring game and great to be involved it because it was so refreshing, no blanket defences and that kind of stuff. It was a proper game of football."

Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Picture: Eddie O'Hare

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