Nemo's Luke Connolly pounces for a sensational winner to deny Castlehaven

A brave second-half fightback by the west Cork club just came up short in dramatic climax
Nemo's Luke Connolly pounces for a sensational winner to deny Castlehaven

Nemo Rangers match-winner Luke Connolly shoots past Castlehaven's Ronan Walsh during the Bon Secours Cork Premier SFC at Clonakilty. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Nemo Rangers 3-13 Castlehaven 1-16 

LUKE Connolly’s genius was evident once more in injury-time of Nemo Rangers dramatic Bon Secours PSFC win over Castlehaven in Clonakilty on Saturday evening.

The great rivals were level, when Haven centre-back Rory Maguire played a cross-field ball which Connolly intercepted and set sail for goal.

Most would have popped over a handy point, but the Nemo skipper had other ideas and duly buried the ball in the bottom corner of the Haven net for a spectacular goal And when Connolly added a free moments later, suddenly the Haven faced a four-point deficit though Brian Hurley’s late free cut the margin to a goal.

It was a sensational finish to a second half in which the Haven were the dominant team after Nemo lost the influential Stephen Cronin to injury just after the throw-in.

Despite trailing by six points, the west Cork club hit five points in seven minutes to sweep back into the contest, Hurley chipping in with three frees, brother Michael also scoring as did substitute Robbie Minihane, 2-10 to 1-11, after 48 minutes.

A Mark Cronin free eased Nemo nerves only for the Haven to reply with another scoring burst, 0-4, including the equaliser from captain Mark Collins, four minutes from the end of regulation time, 2-11 to 1-14.

And when Brian Hurley landed another free the Haven led for the first time since the 10th minute.

But, substitute Ronan Dalton levelled 90 seconds later before that exciting climax in which Connolly was again centre-stage.

Nemo led by 2-9 to 1-6 at the end of a breath-taking first half and it wasn’t all down to the heat because the football made captivating viewing.

There was a dramatic start, when defender Kevin O’Donovan made a lung-bursting run to receive Jack Horgan’s before dragged down by Jack Cahalane for a blatant penalty in only the third minute.

Connolly tucked away the spot kick with a low drive to the right of keeper Anthony Seymour for 1-1 to 0-1, but the Haven responded brilliantly.

And they jumped in front with a brilliant eighth-minute goal, which had the Cahalane name emblazoned all over it.

Damien fed Conor with a well-timed off-load and his incursion deep into the Nemo defence led to Jack planting an unstoppable shot under the angle of crossbar and post, 1-3 to 1-2.

And when Collins gathered the resulting kick-out his pass to Michael Hurley resulted in a super point, but it only spurred on Nemo, who took control.

Luke Horgan restored parity for a second time and namesake Conor edged the city side in front with a superb point, 1-5 to 1-4, after a brilliant opening quarter.

Nemo cemented their grip with a second in the 20th minute following Seymour’s timely intervention to thwart Mark Cronin.

Connolly, under severe pressure, somehow picked out Alan O’Donovan, who sent Kevin Fulignati clear and the wing-back finished in style, 2-6 to 1-4.

Seymour again came to the rescue by diving smartly to his right to bat away Luke Horgan’s attempt before Brian Hurley ended a 10-minute barren spell.

Then came a moment of controversy, when Connolly, who was heading for goal, was tripped by Roland Whelton, who escaped with a black card.

Still, Nemo appeared in control until their opponents’ stirring second half forced a nerve-tingling conclusion.

Scorers for Nemo Rangers: L Connolly 2-4 (1-0 pen, 0-2 f), M Cronin 0-5, K Fulignati 1-0, L Horgan, C Horgan, P Kerrigan, R Dalton 0-1 each.

Castlehaven: B Hurley 0-9 (0-6 f), J Cahalane 1-0, M Hurley, R Minihane 0-2 each, D Cahalane, M Collins, C Maguire 0-1 each.

NEMO RANGERS: MA Martin; K Histon, B Murphy, K O’Donovan; C McCartan, S Cronin, K Fulignati; L Horgan, A O’Donovan; C Horgan, P Kerrigan, J Horgan; M Cronin, B O’Driscoll, L Connolly, captain.

Subs: K O’Sullivan for S Cronin injured 31, R Dalton for Kerrigan 44.

CASTEHAVEN: A Seymour; J O’Regan, R Walsh, S Walsh; C Nolan, R Maguire, D Cahalane; M Collins, captain, C Cahalane; A Whelton, C Maguire, R Whelton; J Cahalane, B Hurley, M Hurley.

Subs: R Minihane for R Whelton half-time, C O’Driscoll for A Whelton 40, K O’Donovan for M Hurley injured 62.

Referee: C Lane (Banteer).

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