Munster Club SFC Final – Nemo Rangers 1-15 Dr. Crokes 1-13

Nemo unleash perfect storm

Nemo Rangers 1-15 Dr Crokes 1-13

Munster Club SFC Final

By Colm Keys from the Irish Independent newspaper

Monday January 31 2011

A bizarre end to a somewhat bizarre fixture that has been almost two and a half months coming to the boil. After two postponements, two venue changes, an hour delay because of a frozen pitch and then an additional 30 minutes because of extra-time in the curtain raiser, the Munster football final for 2010 finally got under way in Mallow at shortly after 4.0pm yesterday. Naturally, such twists and turns couldn’t but produce a complementary match and that’s how it transpired. At the end Nemo Rangers were Munster champions for a 15th time but there was a sense of bewilderment about their success at first that quickly turned to relief. Some 33 minutes earlier they had begun the second half a staggering 13 points — 1-13 to 0-3 — clear, playing football that their manager Eddie Kirwan admitted was “as good as I’ve seen and a pleasure to be involved in”.

But large half-time leads can carry a serious health warning to the team that is cushioned by them. The mind works in strange ways and no matter how they would have tried to convince themselves otherwise they knew that any run on them from Dr Crokes would have the capacity to unnerve them and engage the 4,226 crowd. It worked exactly to that script. Crokes emerged an awakened team. They put the first seven points on the board unanswered and everyone in Mallow was stirred at the prospect of a comeback to surpass all other comebacks. After 15 minutes they had more than halved the deficit, reducing it to just six points, 1-13 to 0-10.

Nemo, so rampant in the opening half thanks to the dominance at midfield of David Niblock and Peter Morgan and the opportunism of just about everyone else, showed little resistance and couldn’t get a foothold until Barry O’Driscoll converted a 45-metre free on 49 minutes. It offered the Cork city giants some respite and when Alan Cronin nudged over a point for a seven-point lead again on 55 minutes, it was enough to even send the new Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin on his way content that the job was done. But Crokes weren’t finished and they kept pressing. Eoin Brosnan inspired them at midfield when he moved there, Colm Cooper was always a worry but Kieran O’Leary did most damage as pillion passenger to ‘Gooch’.

When O’Leary fired home a superb goal from a Cooper pass to leave just two points in it, there was 32 minutes and 30 seconds of the second half elapsed with just a scheduled 30 more seconds of added time left to be played. Any more time and they might just have prevailed. How Dr Crokes must regret the malaise of the first half when they succumbed to a virtual exhibition from the seven-times All-Ireland champions. “We got hit by a whirlwind. We never came to the game at all in the first half. They just blew us out of it in every part of the field,” admitted Dr Crokes manager Harry O’Neill afterwards “No matter what way they looked to kick the ball, it went over the bar. The goalie could have done it with his left or right and it wouldn’t have mattered,” added O’Neill. “Our heads went down, fellas didn’t believe and maybe if we had got them into the dressing-room we might have been able to settle them down. We saw what we could do in the second half, that’s the disappointing thing.”

Sure enough it was as good as any club side has produced in one half for a long, long time. After 20 minutes it looked as good as over, Nemo Rangers cruising to a 1-6 to 0-2 lead. Anything they touched turned to gold. A string of points flew over Crokes ‘keeper Kieran Cremin’s ahead in the final minutes of the first half that drew gasps from the crowd. Niblock got it going from midfield, half-back Daragh Breen with No 2 on his back followed it up, then O’Driscoll with his second. They sensed they could do anything from anywhere and they did. David Kearney, Paul Kerrigan, who had kicked an outrageous point from distance early on, swung one over from with the outside of his right boot from an angle that shouldn’t have suited a right-footed kicker.

As Cronin slalomed through for the 13th Nemo point just before the break, it wasn’t hard to level the accusation at Dr Crokes that they had accepted their fate. Their midfielder Johnny Buckley, who injured his knee last week, was a loss, but to this extent? Rarely has Cooper seen so little possession in a game as he did in the first half yesterday. He didn’t touch the ball for the first nine minutes but he then produced a spark of genius, fetching above three defenders, swinging on to his right foot and then engineering sufficient space for his side’s opening score. Unfortunately for Crokes, it was bettered by another stroke of genius at the other end. James Masters felt sufficiently unwanted to remove himself from the Cork squad earlier last year but he showed in the 10th minute what a creative talent he can be with a cracking drop-kicked goal on the run.

Scorers — Nemo Rangers: J Masters 1-3 (1f),P Kerrigan (1f), A Cronin, B O’Driscoll (1f) 0-3 each, D Kearney, D Breen, D Niblock all 0-1 each. Dr Crokes: K O’Leary 1-4, D Casey 0-3f, C Cooper 0-2 (1f), B Looney, E Brosnan, F Fitzgerald, A O’Donovan all 0-1 each.

Nemo Rangers — B Morgan; A O’Reilly, D Kavanagh, C O’Shea; C O’Brien, B O’Regan, D Breen; P Morgan, D Niblock; A Cronin, P Kerrigan, D Kearney; J Masters, S O’Brien, B O’Driscoll. Subs: A Morgan for Kerrigan (48), B Twomey for O’Driscoll (59).

Dr Crokes — K Cremin; J Payne, D O’Leary, M Moloney; S Myers, L Quinn, S Doolan; A O’Donovan, B McMahon; A Kenneally, E Brosnan, B Looney; C Cooper, D Casey, K O’Leary. Subs: F Fitzgerald for McMahon (26), C Brady for Myers (h-t), S O’Neill for O’Donovan (58).

Ref — D O’Mahony (Tipperary)
Half right alright for Nemo

Nemo Rangers (Cork) 1-15 Dr Crokes (Kerry) 1-13

By John Fogarty for the Irish Examiner newspaper

Monday, January 31, 2011

IT’S imperative to put on record that there was barely a wind in Mallow yesterday. A draught if anything — but nothing close to a breeze. The reason for the clarification is justified for anybody who didn’t witness Nemo Rangers claim their 15th Munster SFC club title on a two-point margin despite floating on a cushion of 13 going into the interval. But let’s head off any jump to conclusions that the elements were responsible for such a turnaround. In this case, they weren’t.

Sure, the much-hackneyed phrase “game of two halves” applied to this affair but not as anybody would know it. After manufacturing arguably the most complete half of football seen in Munster club football for quite some time, Nemo were made to defend their astonishing advantage — and how. In the first 16 minutes of the new half, Dr Crokes reeled off seven unanswered points and Nemo knees were quaking. Admittedly, Kieran O’Leary’s goal three minutes into injury-time flattered the score-line but the margin was inconsequential to Cork champions. Glory was theirs.

“It’s not that we wanted to win by 13 points,” said Nemo manager Eddie Kirwan. “That’s irrelevant. The history books will say that we won and we’re the champions. Senior club football is never easy. They had their time and we had our time. We just made two points better of our time.” In Kirwan’s mind, Nemo’s first-half went beyond compare. “It was as good as I’ve seen and it was a pleasure to be involved in that. We’ll have a peek at the second-half in the video. You flow sometimes and you don’t. And how you limit the opposition when you don’t flow (is crucial). We didn’t do it very well in the second-half but ultimately we came out just about.” “Just about” is right but should we have been surprised that this tie would offer us up something so bizarre? This, after all, was a final that proved most reluctant to be played. Twice postponed before Christmas and with a venue this weekend changed with one day’s notice to Mallow from the Gaelic Grounds because of a frozen pitch, whatever could go wrong did go wrong.

And it didn’t stop in Limerick. Where this final went Jack Frost was sure to follow and throw-in was initially put back an hour to allow the Mallow turf recover from the overnight freeze. Then it was delayed a further 30 minutes as the All-Ireland IFC semi-finalists couldn’t be separated over 60 minutes. When matters finally got under way, the 4,226 Mallow crowd saw Nemo pulverise the opposition in the opening 30 minutes. With three unanswered points in the first three minutes, their intentions were made clear to all. A Colm Cooper point in the 10th minute hardly upset their momentum as James Masters delivered a skill of old when he drove a drop-shot past Kieran Cremin. His blast was the end product of some sterling work from Sean O’Brien and Alan Cronin, true representatives of how tirelessly the Nemo forwards toiled to create as well as spoil in the first-half.

Cooper was finding Ciaran O’Shea a difficult marker although he did manage to find himself one-on-one with Briain Morgan in the 16th minute but was denied. Cooper again freed himself up in the 18th minute to agonisingly fist the ball against the crossbar. From that, Nemo worked the ball up for a Barry O’Driscoll score, which put eight points between the teams. The extent of Crokes’ problems became apparent when Cooper was reassigned to the centre with five minutes to go in the half as David Niblock and Paul Kerrigan led their markers on merry dances. After Niblock exchanged points with O’Leary in the 23rd minute, Nemo rattled over six points without reply, the best of them Kerrigan’s close to the half-time whistle, a scintillating kick on the run after shaking off a couple of defenders.

Nemo weren’t just leading at half-time; they were out of sight — 1-13 to 0-3. Or so we thought. Less than a minute in, Ambrose O’Donovan glided one over and six more followed. Having their 13-point lead more than halved with 14 minutes left, they were close to panic stations. The Crokes supporters found their voices and even though Nemo found their scoring boots again with points from O’Driscoll and Alan Cronin, they were cancelled out by Cooper and Casey efforts. But in the end Kirwan’s side held out. A Brian Looney point and O’Leary’s goal had them shaking a bit but that first-half performance was just too good for Crokes to replicate. Even allowing for more postponements, Nemo will be there or thereabouts again.

Scorers for Nemo Rangers: J Masters 1-3 (one free); P Kerrigan, B O’Driscoll (one free), A Cronin 0-3 each; D Niblock, D Breen, D Kearney 0-1 each.

Scorers for Dr Crokes: K O’Leary 1-4; D Casey (three frees) 0-3; C Cooper (one free) 0-2; A O’Donovan, E Brosnan, F Fitzgerald, B Looney 0-1 each.

Subs for Nemo Rangers: A Morgan for O’Driscoll (temp 7-14); A Morgan for Kearney (temp 29-30); D Mehigan for P Morgan (temp 41-42); A Morgan for Kerrigan (49); B Twomey for O’Driscoll (60).

Subs for Dr Crokes: F Fitzgerald for B McMahon (27); C Brady for Myers (h-t); S O’Neill for O’Donovan (59).

Referee: D O’Mahoney (Tipperary)

Nemo hold on to claim AIB Munster Club title

From the web site

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Nemo Rangers of Cork claimed their 15th AIB Munster GAA Football Senior Club Championship after a remarkable 1-15 to 1-13 defeat of Dr Crokes at Mallow on Sunday. After an incredible first half display, Nemo led by 1-13 to 0-3 and appeared to be coasting to the provincial title and to a place in the last four of the AIB All-Ireland Club Championship. To their immense credit, though, the Kerry champions regrouped at half-time and staged a stunning comeback that very nearly caught Eddie Kirwan’s side out.

The game was staged at the impressive Mallow grounds in Cork after a late switch from the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick. And it was Nemo who immediately looked more comfortable with the more intimate surroundings of the north Cork Club, and with David Niblock in fine form at midfield, they established a big early lead. Former Cork star James Masters blasted home an 11th minute goal for the Leesiders, while Paul Kerrigan chipped in with three points from play.

Despite being under the cosh for much of the half, Crokes did have two goal chances, both of which were squandered by Colm Cooper, who was tightly marked by the Nemo defence. The Kerry star cracked the crossbar with one effort and had a second saved by Brian Morgan, the Nemo goalkeeper. Nemo, however, were completely dominant, and a brilliant Niblock point from way out the pitch helped his side to lead by 13 points at the break. Undaunted, Crokes started to eat into the gap, with Kieran O’Leary, Cooper and Ambrose O’Donovan all contributing points.

Five points in arrears going into injury time, O’Leary fired a late goal to leave a kick of a ball between the sides. However, Nemo, who kicked just two points in the entire second half, hung on for a narrow win and a place in the All-Ireland semi-finals against Connacht champions St Brigid’s.

Match Previews

Click below to view Colm Cooper’s view of the final

Paths to the Final


Quarter Finals

Dr. Crokes (Kerry) 2-13

C. Cooper 2-5: D. Casey 0-5: E. Brosnan 0-2; B. Looney 0-1

Monaleen (Limerick) 1-3

M. Crowley 1-1: M. Gavin 0-1: C. Joyce Power 0-1

Stradbally (Waterford) 0-7

S. Ryan 0-3: T. Tubridy 0-1; B. Aherne 0-1: A. Doyle 0-1: T. Connors 0-1

Doonbeg (Clare) 0-4

T. Curran 0-2: S. Cunningham 0-1: N. Curran 0-1

Semi Finals

Nemo Rangers (Cork) 1-12

P. Kerrigan 0-7: D. Kearney 1-1: D. Niblock 0-1: W. Morgan 0-1: B. O’Driscoll 0-1: A. Morgan 0-1

Stradbally (Waterford) 1-5

R. Aherne 1-0: N. Curran 0-3: S. Aherne 0-2

Dr. Crokes (Kerry) 2-11

L. Quinn 1-2: J. Buckley 0-3: K. O’Leary 0-3: A. Kenneally 1-0: D. Casey 0-1: C. Cooper 0-1: B. Looney 0-1

Aherlow (Tipperary) 0-9

B. Grogan 0-4:S. Moloney 0-3: B. O’Brien 0-1: T. Hanley 0-1