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'Nemo are a cocky oul’ shower, we always think we are going to win anyway'

Nemo Rangers respect All-Ireland champions Dr Crokes but they didn’t fear the prospect of facing them in the Munster final.

Image: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

SEVENTEEN YEARS AGO, Larry Kavanagh captained Nemo Rangers to Munster club championship glory.

Now, the defensive stalwart is the Cork city club’s manager, having a been a selector alongside Steven O’Brien from 2013-15.

In O’Brien’s last year as manager, Nemo won the county title and seemed set to add provincial honours, only for Michael Quinlivan’s late goal to give Clonmel Commercials the win in the final.

The hurt from that loss was something Nemo brought into Sunday’s clash with Dr Crokes at Páirc Uí Rinn, determined to channel it so as to avoid a repeat.

Ten Luke Connolly points went a long way towards dethroning Munster and All-Ireland champions Dr Crokes as Nemo won by 0-16 to 0-11, leaving Kavanagh and his team looking forward to a semi-final tie with Derry’s Slaughtneil.

“We were on the flip-side of it two years ago,” he said, “waking up and saying, ‘how did we lose that?’

“This will seep in now over the next couple of weeks and it gives you something to aim for next year. We hadn’t looked at the All-Ireland, seven years without Munster is a long time so we hadn’t looked beyond that.

“It’s 2003 since we won an All-Ireland but it’s on dark days like this you risk being caught, so I’m just delighted we got over the line.”

Nemo led by 0-9 to 0-5 at half-time, with Connolly twice unlucky to be denied by excellent Shane Murphy saves.

Kavanagh admits that he felt they should have been ahead by more, but was pleased with how his team managed the second half.

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“I thought in the first half we were as good as we have been at any stage or for any Nemo team,” Kavanagh said.

“We gave them that challenge, we thought, not that Crokes were there for the taking, but if we could go at them we’d get goals.

“The fact we hadn’t got goals at half-time worried us but look we felt if we could match them score by score we’d still be four points up. We gave them a target to try and beat them in the second half, the usual carry-on, and they did in fairness to them.”

Going in as 3/1 outsiders was certainly a rare situation for Nemo, but being overawed in a final was not a likelihood, given the heritage and tradition the players had grown up with.

“It probably does help when you are going up against the likes of Crokes who have won four in a row,” Kavanagh said.

Other teams might be intimidated by them – like, Nemo are a cocky oul’ shower, we always think we are going to win anyway but it probably does count!

“It won’t win you a game but at least the young fellas weren’t nervous, everyone wanted to play some lads might go into their shell that they were playing Crokes, the All-Ireland champions, but our fellas, they’d be rubbing shoulders with All-Ireland medals back in the club so they were comfortable out.”

The42 has just published its first book, Behind The Lines, a collection of some of the year’s best sports stories. Pick up your copy in Eason’s, or order it here today (€10):

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Denis Hurley

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