Minnows Glenflesk give Nemo real test
This match proved more of a challenge than many expected for 10-times champions Nemo Rangers. "Phew, if that is what intermediate football is like in Kerry the grade must be exceptionally strong in the county," said the Cork team's manager Billy Morgan when reminded of Glenflesk's promotion last year.
Morgan was relieved to see his side pull away from the precarious position of having only a point to spare with four minutes remaining to clinch a hard-earned win.
The ambitious and spirited Glenflesk will rue the number of chances they squandered in the second half as they gained unexpectedly consistent possession despite the wonderful game in midfield by Nemo man of the match Martin Cronin.
The goal chances in an absorbing encounter fell to Glenflesk. It was ironic, however, that the one that got away was missed by John Crowley, the challegers' pre-eminent target man. That missed opportunity came with Nemo only a couple of points up. Nemo goalkeeper Don Heaphy could only parry a David O'Donovan centre into the path of the incoming Crowley, and when he deflected it wide it was a big a let-off for the Corkmen.
Glenflesk's other big star, Seamus Moynihan, had a largely subdued game. Cronin had no hang-ups about marking the player of the year. "I set out to do my own thing and it worked for me," said the brilliant Nemo midfielder, who covered acres of ground and scored two very valuable points.
Nemo seemed more comfortable on the ball but restricted their attacking options by placing Joe Kavanagh at corner forward. Kavanagh was held scoreless, but produced one stroke of real class when flicking on a pass into the path of Derek Kavanagh which led to a 26th-minute equaliser from David Niblock.
Glenflesk took the wind in the first half but harmed their own chances by over-elaboration. They squandered their first goal chance when David O'Donoghue snatched a lob inside corner back Larry Kavanagh but Heaphy saved the poor shot.
The big threat to the Nemo cover was posed by Crowley, who might have finished up with a lot more than three points but for the great awareness of his menace value shown by the Nemo defenders, who covered well when danger beckoned.
The sight of Colin Corkery lining out at the other end gave the Nemo supporters in the disappointing crowd of 2,510 great joy. The big man who had been doubtful because of an irregular heartbeat played a leading role with six long-range points which stopped Glenflesk in their tracks.
His three huge wind-assisted points, two from frees beyond the 45-metre line within 10 minutes of the restart, pushed Nemo to a three-point lead after the sides were level 0-5 each at the break.
Glenflesk badly needed a marksman of Corkery's calibre. Paud O'Donoghue kicked four frees over from lesser distances but when the losers were trying to get back on terms following Corkery's flurry, O'Donoghue knocked a simple chance off the near post.
"It was disappointing," said Moynihan. "We needed a bit of luck on the day and didn't get it." Indeed, although the chances presented themselves in the second half, Glenflesk failed to raise a flag until the 23rd minute of the period.
Once Glenflesk had shot their bolt in the closing stages and legs began to tire, the options and space opened up for Nemo. Cronin had the final word with a point as his team rattled off three-in-a-row.
In what was otherwise a clean game - although referee Paddy Russell booked seven players - Corkery received a nasty box on the back of the neck to spark off a brief disturbance.
Nemo Rangers: D Heaphy; L Kavanagh, N Geary, I Gibbons; K Connolly, S O'Brien, D Creedon; M Cronin (0-2), K Cahill (0-1); S O'Brien, J Kavanagh, D Niblock (0-1); D Kavanagh, C Corkery (0-6, four frees), A Cronin. Subs: L O'Sullivan (0-1) for Cahill (39 mins); A Morgan for D Kavanagh (60 mins).
Glenflesk: E Bowler; P Favier, M O'Donoghue, J O'Sullivan; T O'Sullivan, K O'Sullivan, O Favier; S Moynihan, D Kelly; P O'Donoghue (0-4, frees), D O'Donoghue, E O'Donoghue; S Dennehy, J Crowley (0-3), P O'Donoghue. Subs: J B O'Donoghue for S Dennehy (37 mins); JC O'Donoghue for K O'Sullivan (51 mins).
Referee: P Russell (Tipperary).