Save for the first score of the game from a Jason Lonergan free, Nemo were never headed. Clonmel were only two points down after 20 minutes but that there had been 18 minutes between their first two points was probably a more accurate reflection of the opening exchanges.
There was only four in it at half-time (0-7 to 0-3) but on a day when scores were going to be hard to come by, it felt significant.
Clonmel kept trying but Nemo strangled them everywhere they went. No doubt chastened by memories of 2015 in Mallow, Michael Quinlivan was kept on a tight leash whether he operated around the middle third or in the full-forward line.
And even when he did manage to gather a high dropping ball late in the second half with the game already long since decided, the Nemo defence took no chances and hauled him to the ground.
There were seven points (0-11 to 0-4) between the teams with just over ten to play as Luke Connolly landed three second-half points from play. At the end there was nine between the teams and no one had any complaints.
“We never turned up on the day, I don’t think,” said Clonmel Commercials manager Charlie McGeever, who had masterminded that 2015 win.
“They did a number on us is what I would say, they prepared well, squeezed us tight and left us with very little room.
“We probably could have got a better start than we did.
“We created a couple of chances early on that might have settled us but I think we had three or four chances that we didn’t take and then they squeezed us with four points in a row, I think, that took the wind from us a little bit.
“But over the duration of the match no doubt that the better team won. We would be disappointed with that; that is not our best performance and we can play better than that.”
McGeever had no explanation for his side’s no-show, insisting he believed they have a better panel than four years ago. “I think we are a better team than 2015. I know it doesn’t look it at the minute, but one to 20, I think we are a better team than we were in 2015. We prepared really well. After Thursday night, I would have said we were ready to go.
“Today, things just didn’t work out. It happens from time to time. All credit must go to Nemo. It had very little to do with us today. We didn’t perform well enough on the day.
“All their good players stood up and played well. They are worthy champions. They have a tough road ahead, but I think they will give Corofin a proper run at it in the semi-final.”
After their destruction job on Austin Stacks, it’s the second game in a row that Nemo have faced teams who ‘didn’t turn up’. The evidence is mounting that that has more to do with them than who they played. Save for a few miscues in front of goal in the second half, Nemo could hardly have been much better.
And in Luke Connolly they had a man in top form. Connolly landed seven points in total and five from play. Paul Kerrigan has had better days but on his 100th championship appearance he brought his score tally up to 300 points (23-231), while Alan Cronin also hit the 50 mark according to records kept by the club. It was also Munster title number 17 for the city outfit.
“I felt we were in a good place after the Stacks match. We took Tuesday off and then we really trained hard on Thursday and Saturday and everything was going well in training so I felt coming into today’s game we were in the right frame of mind and that was reflected in the performance,” Nemo manager Paul O’Donovan said.
“We’ll celebrate it tonight and believe me we will enjoy this. We train hard, play hard and we will celebrate hard.”
They’ll need all that experience when they face three-in-a-row-chasing Corofin in the All-Ireland semi-final on January 4/5.
“Look they have proved themselves that they are arguably the finest club side of all time and they are certainly the best club side in the last five years, they have proved that time and time again,” O’Donovan said.
“It’s a bit early to be plotting on what way we will approach the game but we won’t be going up there to make up the numbers or anything like that, we will be going up to win. I have great confidence in this group, they are an outstanding bunch.
“I have never come across a bunch that will work as hard as them.”
SCORERS – Nemo Rangers: L Connolly 0-7 (2f); M Cronin 0-3 (3f); K O’Donovan, P Kerrigan, C Horgan, B O’Driscoll, K Fuliganti 0-1 each. Clonmel Commercials: R Peters 0-2; J Kennedy, S Kennedy, J Lonergan (1f), M Quinlivan (1f) 0-1 each.
Nemo Rangers – MA Martin; B Murphy, A O’Reilly, A Cronin; K O’Donovan, S Cronin, J Horgan; A O’Donovan, J McDermott; L Connolly, P Kerrigan, C O’Brien; M Cronin, B O’Driscoll, C Horgan. Subs: C Dalton for C O’Brien (50), K Fulignati for O’Driscoll (58), K Histon for B Murphy, R Dalton for J Horgan, B Twomey for C Horgan (all 60 +2).
Clonmel Commercials – M O’Reilly; D Madigan, L Ryan, C McGeever; J Peters, S Kennedy, K Fahey; J Kennedy, P Looram; K Harney, Colman Kennedy, R Peters; J Lonergan, M Quinlivan, S O’Connor. Subs: P Looram for Colman Kennedy (h-t), R Lambe for Conal Kennedy (41), R Gunne for Peters (54), D Lynch for Madigan (58), M Murphy for Harney (60 +2).
Ref – P O’Sullivan (Kerry).