Tuesday 12 December 2017

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Crokes and Nemo do battle

Thursday, 23rd November, 2017 8:56am

Munster Senior Football Final

Nemo Rangers v Dr Crokes

Two of the best and most consistent teams meet in what has the makings of an intriguing encounter with quality players on both sides.

Dr Crokes are the reigning Munster and All-Ireland champions and their desire to extend their remarkable unbeaten run, 17 championship games, is reflected in their decision not to play an O’Donoghue Cup game last weekend, as it would interfere with their preparations for the game.

This will be their third game in Munster having seen off Clonmel Commercials away from home before easily accounting for Kimurry-Ibreckane in the semi-final.

Nemo had an easy win over Adare in their semi-final, and with Luke Connolly fit and ready for action, they too will have all hands on deck, bar the unfortunate Cian McWhinney.

Manager Larry Kavanagh is really looking forward to Sunday. “We all are really, it’s been a long year but when you are playing into November, it means you are at the business end of the season.”

Larry has been pleased with their application since the County Final and with the win over Adare. “We were glad that we put the semi-final to bed early, as the two games against the ‘Barrs were tough and took a bit out of the squad, and we also cleared up the few injuries we had and now we are all set.”

The manager also confirmed that Luke Connolly, whose form has been excellent will be fit.

“He’s fine, we took him off as a precaution, and his presence along with others in our attack is a good boost.”

Larry also knows the strength of the opposition, saying: “They're the champions on a great run and have a very strong panel. That said, we like to think our panel is strong enough, we have prepared well and we will give it our best and hopefully that will be good enough on the day.”

Forward Barry O’Driscoll expressed the same sentiments while conscious of the task ahead. “Crokes are an exceptional team with a lot of quality, but we feel we have as much class in our team and we are relishing the challenge. Playing at home, more or less, will help but we will need to be at our best to win.”

Nemo’s last appearance in a final was two years ago when a late goal by Clonmel denied them their 16th Munster title and they have been itching to get back there and redress that result.

Crokes have an exceptional panel, with Colm Cooper, Johnny Buckley, Fionn Fitzgerald and Kieran O’Leary household names, add in Gavin O’Shea, Michael Moloney and Shane Murphy and it's an indication of their depth.

Nemo themselves are well served with quality with Micheal Aodh Martin, the Cronin brothers, Aidan O’Reilly, Barry O’Driscoll, Luke Connolly, Paul Kerrigan, Paddy Gumley and Jack Horgan.

It’s strange that Nemo are entering this game as outsiders, that rarely happens, but that is a measure of how highly rated this Crokes team are.

The Cork champions will need, at the very least, to break even in midfield if they are to end Croke’s reign, as if they get enough quality ball into the likes of Cooper and O’Leary, they will turn it into scores.

Equally Kerrigan, O’Driscoll and Connolly can be just as effective, it could make for a high scoring contest, especially if the weather gods oblige.

There is no doubt that Nemo will have to produce their very best performance of the season if they are to upset the odds. It is well within their capabilities to do just that, and it would be silly of anyone to write the men from Trabeg off in a final, they might just shade it.

The game has a 2pm start in Páirc Uí Rinn and will be live on C103.

County C’ships

The season is very nearly at an end and credit to all involved in bringing a mammoth programme of games to a conclusion.

The events in the Under 21 Hurling Championship will cause a slight delay but is should be all done dusted prior to the annual convention on 10 December.

Clonakilty and Ballincollig will contest the Rochestown Park Hotel Kelleher Shield Final, this is the Division 1 football league decider, in Ovens at 7.30pm on Friday night and even this late in the year, it should produce a lively contest.

On Saturday in Páirc Uí Rinn, it’s the replay of the County Junior ‘B’ Hurling Final between Sarsfields and Killavullen at 3pm.

Sars are also in action on Sunday in the Senior Hurling League Final against East Cork rivals Killeagh at 12pm, with a venue to be confirmed.

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