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Connolly hits two goals as Nemo Rangers win 2020 Cork senior football final against Castlehaven

The champions finished with three points to spare.

Luke Connolly struck two goals for Nemo Rangers.
Luke Connolly struck two goals for Nemo Rangers.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Nemo Rangers 3-7

Castlehaven 0-13

329 DAYS SINCE the semi-finals took place, the Cork premier senior football championship was at last completed this afternoon with a familiar winner of a long-awaited decider.

A 22nd county senior crown arrived for Nemo Rangers as Luke Connolly pounced for two critical second-half goals. That allied to an early strike from Ciaran Dalton enabled Nemo Rangers to hold off the challenge of Castlehaven to triumph.

It marks a second successive title for Nemo, and just like in the 2019 decider, a brace of goals from Connolly proved vital in helping them stretch ahead. Man-of-the-match Paul Kerrigan utilised all his experience to orchestrate second-half attacks and played in the pass for both of Connolly’s strikes to the net.

Alan O’Donovan put in a towering performance at midfield as the game progressed with Ronan Dalton showing up well early on in attack. At the back they managed to protect captain Micheal Aodh Martin’s goalmouth and ensure Castlehaven could not raise the green flag they desperately required in the closing stages.

paul-kerrigan Paul Kerrigan (file photo). Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

A crowd of 2,423 gathered in the sunshine in Páirc Uí Chaoimh with the Castlehaven contingent in the North Stand boosted by the presence of Brian Hurley in their starting line-up. A fresh hamstring injury had threatened his participation but he began the game, chalking up 0-4 in the first half. Instead it was Nemo who were hit with an attacking injury setback, Mark Cronin forced to limp off with the game only four minutes old.

The targeting of danger men up front saw Hurley watched closely by Cork panellist Briain Murphy at one end while Damien Cahalane, a week after suffering hurling disappointment in Croke Park, was shadowing Nemo’s Luke Connolly.

Hurley finished with 0-8 to his credit, his younger brother Michael chipped in with three and Conor O’Driscoll landed a brace as only three players chipped in with scores for Castlehaven. Their inaccuracy proved costly in the second half as they amassed nine wides while the timing of the two Nemo goals hit them hard as they chased a first final win since 2013.

michael-hurley Michael Hurley (file photo) Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Both teams registered six scores in the opening half but one of Nemo’s was a goal which gave them a buffer at the break as they were ahead 1-5 to 0-6. Jack Horgan made a burst forward in the 7th minute and his pass released Ciaran Dalton, introduced for the luckless Cronin, and the substitute kept calm to plant the ball in the net.

With Kerrigan sharp as he bagged the opening two points of the game, Nemo were flying with their 1-4 to 0-1 advantage in the 10th minute. But they only scored once in the remainder of the half as Castlehaven chipped away at the deficit to trail by four at the water break and by two at the interval.

Castlehaven lost David McCarthy to a black card late in the first half while Nemo saw Kieran Histon depart for a similar offence after half-time. Castlehaven reeled off three points in the third quarter yet the significance of Nemo’s two scores in that period was clear.

Connolly sidestepped the defensive cover in the 38th minute after cutting in from the left wing before finding the net, pushing his team in front 2-5 to 0-7. Then another goal arrived on the cusp of the second-half water break, leaving them in front 3-5 to 0-9.

Castlehaven won the last quarter by 0-4 to 0-2, Brian Hurley contributing three points but Nemo’s experience and resilience enabled them to close out the game, substitutes Barry O’Driscoll and James McDermott knocking over important points.

Scorers for Nemo Rangers: Luke Connolly 2-0, Ciaran Dalton 1-0, Paul Kerrigan, Ronan Dalton 0-2 each, Alan O’Donovan, Barry O’Driscoll, James McDermott 0-1 each.

Scorers for Castlehaven: Brian Hurley 0-8 (0-6f), Michael Hurley 0-3, Conor O’Driscoll 0-2.

Nemo Rangers

1. Micheal Aodh Martin (captain)

2. Kieran Histon, 5. Kevin O’Donovan, 3. Briain Murphy.

4. Alan Cronin, 6. Stephen Cronin, 7. Jack Horgan

8. Alan O’Donovan, 9. Barry Cripps

12. Colin O’Brien, 11. Ronan Dalton, 10. Luke Connolly

13. Mark Cronin, 14. Paul Kerrigan, 15. Conor Horgan.

Subs

17. Ciaran Dalton for Mark Cronin (inj) (4)

21. James McDermott for Cripps (47) 

18. Barry O’Driscoll for Conor Horgan (47)

22. Aidan O’Reilly for Ronan Dalton (57)

23. Kevin Fulignati for Alan O’Donovan (inj) (58)

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Castlehaven

1. Anthony Seymour

4. Ronan Walsh, 2. Johnny O’Regan, 3. Rory Maguire.

6. Damien Cahalane, 7. David McCarthy, 10. Roland Whelton.

8. Jamie Walsh, 9. Mark Collins (captain)

12. Conor Cahalane, 13. Conor O’Driscoll, 14. Cathal Maguire.

11. Brian Hurley, 19. Jack Cahalane, 15. Michael Hurley.

Subs

17. David Whelton for Jamie Walsh (43)

18. Shane Nolan for O’Driscoll (52)

5. Ciaran O’Sullivan for Roland Whelton (58)

20. Kevin O’Donovan for Maguire (58)

Referee: Conor Lane

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole  / Reports from Páirc Uí Chaoimh

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