ONE of the benefits of the split season was highlighted by this intriguing battle of the heavyweights on a gloriously warm Saturday evening in Clonakilty, watched by a big crowd who witnessed a riveting contest from start to finish.
Both had won their opening-round games against Newcestown and Clonakilty respectively so the pressure wasn’t as intense as it could have been, but it didn’t weaken the interest one bit.
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 pass before being dragged down by Jack Cahalane for a blatant penalty in only the third minute.
New captain Luke 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 Haven skipper Mark Collins gathered the resulting kick-out his pass to Michael Hurley resulted in a super point. Yet, 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.
The second half, however, was very different with the Haven 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 young 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 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 though substitute Ronan Dalton levelled 90 seconds later.
Then came Connolly’s moment of magic in injury time, burying the ball in the bottom corner of the net for a spectacular winning goal.