MANAGER Paul O’Donovan will oversee Nemo Rangers’ Bon Secours Cork PSFC semi-final as his club attempts to reach a third county decider in four years.
The hunger and determination to succeed is present any time an individual pulls on the famous black and green Nemo Rangers jersey.
2022 is no exception when it comes to what Nemo do best, hunting trophies. This year has the additional caveat of being one of Cork’s most famous GAA club’s 100th anniversary.
As significant a milestone as that is, failing to retain the Andy Scannell cup —annexed in such spectacular fashion back in 2020 — represents an even greater driving force behind Rangers’ path to this year’s Cork PSFC semi-finals.
“Obviously, 2022 is a huge year for the club,” Nemo Rangers senior manager O’Donovan admitted.
Being our centenary year and the fact that we had such a poor campaign last year has motivated the lads to put in that extra effort.
“It is also the first year in the last three that we have been completely Covid free. That has allowed us to attack the championship right from the start. Our preparation has been as good since I have been in charge.”
The quick turnaround from winning the 2020 PSFC and immediately starting into the 2021 championship proved difficult for O’Donovan and his players.
Clearly, Covid took its toll on a Nemo team that failed to qualify from a group containing Douglas, Valley Rovers and Carrigaline.
Twelve months on and a rejuvenated club, off the back of an impressive county league campaign, have carried that form into the Premier Senior championship.
Seeing off West Cork’s Newcestown, Castlehaven, Clonakilty and Carbery Rangers qualified Nemo for the penultimate round and a showdown with a familiar opponent.
“When we set out our goals at the start of the year, our initial focus was on the league,” O’Donovan added.
“We were minus all of our Cork players but we saw no reason why we couldn’t be competitive. As it turned out, it ended up being a very positive league programme for us. We won seven matches and got two walkovers. So that qualified us for a semi-final and we progressed from there.
“Obviously, we had a tough Cork PSFC group and the West Cork challenges we faced. Again, we got through those tough games and came away with three wins. Once you get to the quarter-finals it is all about winning and getting to the next round.
“It was a tough struggle against Carbery Rangers the last day before we came out on top by a point.
Now we face into an even tougher semi-final against Ballincollig. They have improved a lot since their league campaign and initial championship match.”
O’Donovan knows Ballincollig and their manager Podsie O’Mahony well. That’s why O’Donovan is expecting nothing less than the toughest of examinations from a young, vibrant Ballincollig side that has racked up some eye-catching scores.
“Whatever about Ballincollig, we have to get ourselves right, there is no doubt about that. Going back to the Castlehaven group game (3-13 to 1-16), our shooting was quite good but, for whatever reasons, has dropped off over the last two games [0-8 against Clonakilty and 2-4 against Carbery Rangers].
“I would say the Clon game was a difficult one for us due to the weather conditions. We had no excuse against Carbery Rangers. We shot three or four very poor wides by our standards and have to sort that out.
“I watched Ballincollig against Carbery in the quarter-finals and was very impressed by them. They have scored eight goals in their last two championship games. Ballincollig’s form is on the up whereas our form needs to improve.”
The Nemo Rangers and Ballincollig county semi-final is an exciting prospect if both teams decide to go on the attack. That approach seems likely considering previous performances and the depth of attacking talent within each panel.
Páirc Uí Chaoimh will provide the perfect backdrop to what could be the match of the championship.
“Páirc Uí Chaoimh is the best pitch in Cork, there is no doubt about that. The surface is absolutely fantastic. It is a fantastic theatre for big games.
"We’d hope that both teams will go at it and it will be an open, flowing game of football. Who knows what we or Ballincollig will line up but this game has the potential to be a cracker."