Saturday 14 December 2019

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Game On

Nemo and Duhallow set for final battle for glory

Wednesday, 23rd October, 2019 4:09pm

It is quite remarkable that since winning their first title in 1972, Nemo Rangers are now in search of a 21st Andy Scannell Cup.

Duhallow are bidding for a third title - one was won as Duhallow West - with the last won back in 1991, contrasting fortunes ahead of Sunday’s decider.

What is even more impressive is that Nemo have lost just two finals in their 22 appearances, while Duhallow were beaten in last year’s final by the ‘Barr’s.

Nemo were champions in 2017, which means the two most consistent teams are contesting this year’s final, and it has the makings of a cracking decider.

Paul O’Donovan is the Nemo manager, and having made an early exit last year, is delighted to be back in the final. “It's what this club is about, we were very disappointed with how we went out last year; you could say we were on a mission this year and we have completed one part of that objective in getting to the final.”

O'Donovan has been impressed with Duhallow: “What I have seen of them they have been excellent, good and experienced players all over the field and just look at what their club teams have achieved is a good indication of the standard of football within the division.”

Duhallow manager Padraig Kerins sees the involvement of clubs from the division as a help to his team. “It helps us greatly to have our players playing big championship games at the business end of the season, you do get concerned about injuries but that’s all part of sport.”

Kerins also has huge admiration for Nemo: “You have to really, along with the ‘Barrs, they set the benchmark for all teams in the championship and that is what we aspire to.”

Will the experience gained from last year help? “Well you would hope so, we learned a lot from that game and hopefully we can benefit from it, but at the end of the day when the game starts, it’s up to the players to perform.”

It must be a concern, though, that so many of their players had big championship games last weekend, and apart from Knocknagree, the other teams, Millstreet, Kanturk and Dromtarriffe all lost, so this week the management team will be endeavouring to lift their spirits.

That said, there is a lot of quality in the Duhallow team. Bart Daly, the McLoughlins, John and Lorcan, Kevin Murphy and Lorcan O’Neill are good solid defenders, while Aidan Walsh, Eoghan McSweeney, Anthony O’Connor and, if fit, Donnacha O’Connor offer a lot in attack.

Nemo have really impressed in the wins over St Finbarr’s and Douglas, conceding just 0-15 in both games, which is an indication that their defence is well equipped to cope whatever attacking formation Duhallow arrive at.

Micheál Aodh Martin, Aidan O’Reilly, Stephen Cronin, Brian Murphy and Jack Horgan excelled in those games.

James McDermott is a real hard and efficient worker in midfield, while in attack Paul Kerrigan, Luke Connolly, Mark Cronin and Barry O’Driscoll are a huge threat to any defence.

Both sides play a nice brand of open attacking football and it has the makings of a good and possibly high scoring game. If it turns out that way, I expect Nemo to win, and in the process, maintain their incredible record in finals.

The meeting of Éire Óg and St Michael's has the makings of a cracking encounter between two teams with huge potential, particularly in attack.

For St Michael's, it’s a fifth final appearance in six years, and they have lost the previous four, including the last two-in-a-row, they will be very determined to avoid an unwanted hat-trick.

It’s a hectic period for the Blackrock-based club as they are still involved in both the Junior A and B Championships which is an indication of the level work going in by a very dedicated group of individuals.

The manner in which dismissed Kanturk will give them huge confidence for Sunday, although there will be a slight concern at their low scoring return in the second half.

Tadgh Deasy, Eric Hegarty and Shane O’Keeffe impressed in attack, particularly Deasy whose pace and control ripped the Kanturk defence apart.

In defence Owen O’Sullivan, Daniel Meaney and Alan O’Callaghan did well but on Sunday they face a real test with Daniel Goulding, John Cooper and Kevin Hallisey as opponents, and possibly Ciarán Sheehan, while Cork senior Ronan O’Toole is another key player for the mid-Cork side.

Éire Óg were involved in a thriller against Bantry Blues and the manner in which they survived that test will fill them with confidence.

The neutrals will feel that surely the gods will smile on St Michael's, but that will count for little unless they perform which they haven’t done in recent finals. They will need to, and if they do, they might just reach the promised land.

The semi-finals are down for decision on Saturday when St Michael's or Kilworth who played last night (Wednesday) will meet Ballymartle, while the second semi-final goes ahead in Coachford at 3pm with Kilshannig facing Iveleary.

The general expectation is that the winners of this tie will ultimately be crowned champions, but there is a lot of football to be played before that can happen, but a nod to Kilshannig to win this one.

In total five Cork clubs are in Munster Club Championship action over a hectic weekend.

Three of these in ladies football are finals beginning with a double-header in Mallow on Saturday.

At 2.30pm in the junior final, Donoughmore face Galtee Rovers from Tipperary and this is followed by the intermediate decider at 4pm with Inch Rovers against another Tipperary side, Templemore.

On Sunday at 3pm, Munster and All-Ireland champions Mourneabbey play Ballymacarbry, and Cahir is the venue for this final.

In camogie, intermediate champions Newcestown will enjoy home advantage for their first round encounter with Gaultier from Waterford, while in the senior championship, Sars will also have home advantage for their meeting with surprise Tipperary champions Drom-Inch - both games have 1.30pm starts on Sunday.

What odds on all five Cork teams winning? Best of luck to all.

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