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2 postponements, 2 venue changes and a 2 month delay - the 2011 classic between Crokes and Nemo

The last time Dr Crokes lost a game in Munster, they nearly pulled off one of the great comebacks against Nemo Rangers.

Brian Twomey and Colm Cooper Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

THE LAST COMPETITIVE meeting between Dr Crokes and Nemo Ranger was notable for a number of reasons.

The Munster final between both sides was postponed twice which caused a delay of almost two and a half months before they eventually clashed in January 2011.

Nemo had a power-packed side featuring James Masters, Paul Kerrigan, Barry O’Driscoll, Derek Kavanagh and David Niblock, while the Crokes team-sheet included Eoin Brosnan, Brian Looney, Daithi Casey, Colm Cooper, Kieran O’Leary and Fionn Fitzgerald.

“There was talk even it would be called off the day before and switched to Mourneabbey which would be next to Mallow,” recalls Cork star Kerrigan. “It was a memorable game for a couple of reasons, but definitely the way it was put off, I think there was very bad ice that year.”

The giants of club football endured two venue changes, an hour delay due to a frozen pitch and an extra 30 minute wait for extra-time in the curtain-raiser – the intermediate All-Ireland semi-final – to conclude.

Derek Kavanagh and David Casey Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

Crokes were without key man Johnny Buckley, who picked up a bad knee injury in the lead-up to the game and he recalls watching in with frustration from the sideline.

“I actually got injured, we were training an A versus B the week before,” he explains. “It was the usual story, the last couple of minutes of the session, I just had an awkward clash with a fella and tore the ligaments in my knee so my memories of that day were being water boy and being frustrated on the sideline.”

The last of Nemo’s 15 Munster titles arrived after a whirlwind start where they powered into a 1-13 to 0-3 half-time lead after a slick display in Mallow.

“Probably the best I’ve played in and the best I’ve watched,” says Kerrigan. “It was outrageous stuff. It was tit for tat at the start and then Barry O’Driscoll hit one with the outside of his left on the run on the sideline and then I hit one from the other sideline with the outside of my right.

“It was outrageous, there was very few wides and even our ‘keeper, Brian Morgan, saved a one-on-one from the Gooch. It was dream stuff really that half.”

Colin O'Brien and Brian Looney Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

But the Cork champions wilted after the restart as Crokes clicked through the gears.

By the time Colm Cooper played in Kieran O’Leary for a superb finish in the 63rd minute, Crokes were just two points behind. To Nemo’s relief, the final whistle arrived 30 seconds later to deny the Kerry kingpins the comeback of all comebacks.

“It’s come up in conversation now the last number of weeks, they were seriously impressive in that first half,” says Buckley.

“So we know what they’re capable of. They’ve all the ammunition to do that again this weekend.”

While Nemo took the spoils that day in Mallow, it was the beginning of the end for that great team, while Crokes were only starting out.

It was the last game Dr Crokes lost in the province, while Nemo Rangers endured a lull and would make it out of Cork just once in the next six years.

In the meantime, Dr Crokes emerged as a dominant force by winning four Munsters and an All-Ireland with the bulk of that team heavily involved.

Johnny Buckley celebrates with the trophy after the game Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Of the side who featured the last time out against Nemo, 12 players got game-time in their recent St Patrick’s Day defeat of Slaughtneil in Croke Park.

This time around Nemo are the young up and comers, with just four survivors from 2010.

“I think there’s only a handful of us that would have Munster medals,” says Kerrigan. “It’s no harm really because there should be a good lot of hunger in the young lads to get one.

“It’s been so long for us…the cup is there and I’d nearly forgotten what it looked like it’s been so long since I saw it. There should be huge hunger from us, but we’ll be up against it. They’re hugely experience, they’re kind of where we were back then.”

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Kevin O'Brien

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