“We haven’t even spoken about it, to be honest with you,” says Nemo Rangers manager Paul O’Donovan of their agonising 2015 Munster final defeat at the hands of this weekend’s opponents.
As Nemo captain Paul Kerrigan recalled in painful detail yesterday, on this weekend four years ago, the Cork champions were ahead by two points — just 35 seconds from Munster glory.
The 2015 provincial club decider was well into the second of the two additional minutes allotted by referee Rory Hickey when Seamus Kennedy delivered a Hail Mary from midfield that was gathered by Michael Quinlivan at the second attempt. The full-forward proceeded to roll the ball into the net to secure a first — and famous — Munster senior final win for Clonmel Commercials.
The sides, who haven’t met since, will renew acquaintances in this Sunday’s provincial decider. Of their respective Munster semi-final line-ups, 10 players on the Nemo side and nine for Clonmel were involved four years ago.
There’s no question but that Nemo have a score to settle, but manager O’Donovan is adamant the 2015 fixture hasn’t been mentioned at training this week or last.
“It is like going out to play the Barr’s or Douglas, where you might play them every year or every second year. You never think back to the last time you played against them, you simply try and get ready for the game in front of you. That is the way we are going into Sunday. We will worry about ourselves, try to be at the top of our game, and try to play consistently for the hour,” replied O’Donovan, when quizzed on the relevance of the 2015 result.
But while they may not have mentioned 2015 aloud, O’Donovan accepts the nature of that defeat provides a source of motivation individual players will tap into approaching throw-in.
“Yes, I think it will be [a motivation]. What I’m hoping is that the 2015 final will drill home, going into Sunday, how tight a game this will be and how Clonmel Commercials are quite capable of beating us, like they did four years ago.
“If we can get the frame of mind right, play to our potential, then I have no fear for us. If Clonmel beat us, I’ll be the first over to them to shake their hands, but I’ve a feeling that we are going in the right way, we are well motivated, and playing well. I am reasonably confident, without being over-confident, that if we turn up on the day, we can come out on the right side of it.”
Despite stuttering efforts in the second half of their county final and Munster quarter-final victories, the Nemo boss is most content with where his team are at. Their average concession per game this year is 0-9, while no team has managed to take them for a single green flag since August 17.
“I do think we are in a good place. We are very fortunate in Nemo that we have a very strong Premier Intermediate team and those guys are on our panel.
O’Donovan concluded: “We are not reading too much into the Austin Stacks game because they were in a very unlucky position in that they had only a week to get ready. On the day, we felt it was a case of us playing well and them not being up to their normal standard.
“We know Clonmel will be a completely different prospect. As well as beating us four years ago, they have quite a few lads who won a Sigerson with UCC and quite a few lads who have been part of Tipperary teams that have pushed Cork in the Munster Championship in recent years.”