Nemo Rangers 0-15 Clonmel Commercials 0-6
Nemo Rangers, inspired by wing-forward Luke Connolly, secured a 17th Munster senior club football title at Fraher Field on a day when their superiority was rarely in doubt.
But with Corofin awaiting in the All-Ireland semi-finals, Nemo manager Paul O’Donovan knows his charges will have to demonstrate a sharper edge in front of goal when they next line out.
“We can’t think too much about that right now,” said O’Donovan as the post-match celebrations began. “But we’ll have to play better than that, there’s no doubt about it; we’ll have to be more clinical than that. But look, we’re in an All-Ireland semi-final, it’s a fantastic place to be at this time of the year. It’ll be a quiet Christmas for the lads but I don’t think they’d want it any other way.”
In welcome west Waterford sunshine before a 2,124-strong crowd, Nemo Rangers led by 0-7 to 0-3 at the break and were good value for that advantage.
Clonmel hit the front after two minutes through a Jason Lonergan free, with Nemo taking five minutes to find an equaliser through the impressive Connolly, who found his range from 40 metres. Within seconds, the Cork champions charged forward again through the industrious Kevin O'Donovan, who floated a cross-goal ball to Paul Kerrigan, whose palmed effort landed tamely into the palms of a grateful Michael O'Reilly.
Nemo, growing in confidence with each attack, were denied a 10th minute goal after O’Reilly dived brilliantly to his right, thwarting Connolly’s well-struck effort.
Connolly made no mistake when converting an 11th minute free to send his side into the lead for the first time, with a further free, this time via Mark Cronin, extending their advantage two minutes later.
Nemo kept the foot down and pointed again after 14 minutes through Connolly, following fine support play from Kevin O’Donovan and Colin O’Brien.
Clonmel, while not quite bailing water by then, needed a reply and found it in the 20th minute thanks to Ross Peters, who was fed possession by the heavily marshalled Michael Quinlivan. Yet the wind in Clonmel's sails proved brief as Nemo landed a fifth point from their very next attack from another Cronin free following a foul on Kerrigan.
Commercials kept themselves in touch thanks to a superb floated effort by Séamus Kennedy, with the hard-working Quinlivan again proving provider. But it was Nemo who finished the half in command thanks to further points from Conor Hogan and Kevin O'Donovan and they were to press home their superiority thereafter.
Nemo opened the second half scoring seven minutes in thanks to a clever run and finish by captain Barry O'Driscoll, before Connolly found his range again. Commercials, whose support never waned over the course of the hour, registered a fourth point in the 46th minute from Jack Kennedy. But any lingering hopes the Tipperary men had of reining in Nemo were soon snuffed out.
Jack Horgan raced onto a quickly taken sideline ball down Clonmel's left channel after 47 minutes, picking out man of the match Connolly for another point. As the sunlight faded Connolly added to his tally within a minute of that strike to send Nemo seven points clear. Ross Peters kicked his second point of the day for Clonmel after 50 minutes before Connolly landed his seventh two minutes later.
On a day when his finishing largely eluded him, Kerrigan palmed over his 231st career point in club football seven minutes from time. Tallied with his 23 goals in the black and green, this leaves the Cork veteran on the 300-point mark for Nemo on what was also his 100th senior club appearance.
Quinlivan finally opened his account in the 55th minute with a close range free on a day when Clonmel were never truly at the races.
Additional time points by substitute Kevin Fulignati and Cronin (his third) provided the icing on the cake for Nemo.
“Even though we missed a good few chances, we still kept creating chances and took a few scores,” said Paul O’Donovan. “I’d say we probably left 1-6 or 1-7 behind us which would have created a bigger gap on the scoreboard but you have to credit our backs as well, to limit a very good side who we’d rate very highly to six points over an hour.”
Nemo Rangers: M A Martin; B Murphy, A O'Reilly, A Cronin; K O'Donovan (0-1), S Cronin, J Horgan; A O'Donovan, J McDermott; L Connolly (0-7, 0-2f), P Kerrigan (0-1), C O'Brien; M Cronin (0-3, 0-3f), B O'Driscoll (0-1), C Horgan (0-1). Subs: C Dalton for C O'Brien (40 mins), K Fulignati (0-1) for B O'Driscoll (58), R Dalton for J Horgan, K Histon for B Murphy and B Twomey for C Horgan (all 60+).
Clonmel Commercials: M O'Reilly; D Madigan, L Ryan, C McGeever; J Peters, S Kennedy, K Fahey; J Kennedy (0-1), Conal Kennedy (0-1); K Harney, Colman Kennedy, R Peters (0-2); J Lonergan (0-1, 0-1f), M Quinlivan (0-1, 0-1f), S O'Connor. Subs: P Loonan for Colman Kennedy (h-t), R Lambe for Conal Kennedy (41), R Gunne for R Peters (50), D Lynch for D Madigan (58) and M Murphy for K Harney (60+).
Referee: Padraig O'Sullivan (Kerry).