Wednesday 11 December 2019

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Nemo on hunt for Munster title

Wednesday, 27th November, 2019 4:30pm

Nemo Rangers vs Clonmel Commercials
When previewing this final, initial thoughts bring me back to their last meeting, also in the Munster Final on a December afternoon four years ago.

With time almost up and Nemo ahead, in the final minute of added time Michael Quinlivan slipped the ball in to the net and Clonmel Commercials were crowned champions in the most dramatic of circumstances.

Will it have a bearing on Sunday? Unlikely, although the Tipperary champions will feel what they did once, they can do again. As for Nemo Rangers, they never lack motivation, but the opportunity to gain a measure of revenge won’t be far from their thoughts.

It has the makings of an intriguing contest, in the somewhat unusual venue of Fraher Field, but it should make for a nice atmosphere at the homely ground in Dungarvan.

The sides had contrasting wins in their respective semi-finals: Nemo cruised to the easiest of wins over an out of sorts Austin Stack’s side, while Clonmel once again produced the goods to see off Milltown-Malbay in the heart of West Clare.

Paul O’Donovan, the Nemo Rangers manager, is looking forward to Sunday and says the loss in 2015 will have no bearing. “Since then we have won two county titles, a Munster title and reached the All-Ireland Final, so as far as we are concerned our sole focus is on Sunday.”

Paul does accept, though, the quality they face: “The manner in which they got a result, away from home, is the sign of a good team and really any side that gets to a Munster Final has to be respected. But, having said that, we are ready and looking forward to Sunday.”

As for their record in the Munster championship? “It’s one we are very proud of, and once the county was won, we set our sights on the next challenge and that is what is ahead on Sunday.”

Equally Paul is delighted at how his side has performed in recent games, with particular praise for the defence.

“It has been excellent, just two goals conceded all season in the championship, but the work rate of everyone goes right through the team and that is what makes things work.”

Captain Barry O’Driscoll is also looking forward to the final: “It’s not the best of weather to be training in, but it’s a great time to be training because it means you are at the business end of the season and that is where we aim to be every year.”

Barry also agrees that the loss four years ago will not be a factor. “We haven’t even spoken about it, some of us played that day, others did not, so our focus is solely on winning and moving on the next phase.”

The strength of the Nemo team is the balance all over the field, Micheal Aodh Martin has been excellent all year, while the Cronins, Aidan O’Reilly and Jack Horgan form a solid and very effective defensive unit.

The addition of James McDermott in midfield has added a new dimension to their game, his work rate and distribution are excellent, while his partner Alan O’Donovan is also a key component in Nemo’s armoury.

It’s the attack, though, that has inflicted serious damage in most games. Luke Connolly, Paul Kerrigan, Barry O’Driscoll and Mark Cronin have racked up impressive scores and the Clonmel defence will need to be at their best if they are to contain this unit.

Of course Clonmel have players of quality as well, none more so then ace forward Michael Quinlivan and how the Nemo defence cope with his presence could shape this contest.

Others to watch include Kevin Fahey, Ross Peters, Jason Lonergan and the Kennedys, Colman, Colan and Jack, with the latter pair forming an effective midfield pairing whose battle with McDemott and O’Donovan will be crucial.

I expect it to be a close contest but a better balanced Nemo side should see the Cork champions collect their 17th Munster title, and in the process, set up an All-Ireland semi-final with three-in-a-row seeking Corofin in early January.

That though is for another day and it’s Nemo to win in a game that has a 2pm start with live coverage on C103.

Under 21 Championships
There are five games in total with all, bar one, on the 4G pitch in Páirc Uí Chaoimh where the lack of a scoreboard is certainly causing issues for players, officials and supporters alike.

The one game not being played there is the Under 21 B football semi-final in Páirc Uí Rinn on Sunday at 1.15pm where it's Aghabullogue vs Buttevant.

On Saturday at 5.30pm in B hurling, Castlemartyr should get the better of Ballinora, while at 7.15pm Mallow are fancied to edge out Ballinhassig to set up a semi-final meeting with Bride Rovers in the Premier 2 grade.

At 6pm on Sunday, in Premier 1, Douglas should be too strong for Duhallow and this is followed at 7.30pm by the meeting of Blackrock and Glen Rovers.

The ‘Rockies have been active at intermediate and under 21 levels in recent weeks and that might give them an edge, but Danny Morris, Robert Downey and Simon Kennefick have plenty of experience at senior level and that could be enough to get them over the line.

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