Nemo finish AIB All Ireland Semi-Final with a flourish
AIB All-Ireland Club SFC Semi-Final
NEMO RANGERS (Cork) 2-19 SLAUGHTNEIL (Derry) 1-14
By Paul Keane at O'Moore Park, Portlaoise
Cork's Nemo Rangers are back on the AIB All-Ireland title trail after returning to yet another final with a thrilling extra-time win over Slaughtneil in Portlaoise.
Luke Connolly's brilliant 2-5 haul was decisive as the seven-time All-Ireland winners came from four points down early in the second-half to eventually prevail.
Kerry icon Tomas O Se, 39, was inspired too and led the Munster champions superbly from his half-back berth, popping up for two important points.
Both sides had their opportunities to win it in normal time though Christopher Bradley's 64th minute converted free for Slaughtneil forced extra-time at 1-12 apiece.
Nemo restarted with gusto and picked off seven points in the first-half of extra-time, including four from the excellent Connolly, to effectively win the contest.
It was a serious show of character and endurance from Larry Kavanagh's side in that extra period who added an 80th minute Connolly goal, his second, to secure a March 17 final date with Corofin.
It was tough on back to back Ulster champions Slaughtneil who came into the contest as favourites and hit the ground running by bossing the first-half.
Shane McGuigan notched back to back points, both of which were set up by Cormac O'Doherty, before scores from Brian Cassidy and Christopher Bradley.
That left Slaughtneil with a four-point advantage and Nemo didn't register their first score until the 20th minute through Connolly.
That was a converted free from the corner-forward and Nemo finally scored from play in the 24th minute when Paul Kerrigan split the posts from the right.
Nemo were on a roll at that stage and the 16-time Munster champions reduced the gap to the minimum with a clever fisted point by veteran O Se.
Slaughtneil soon put daylight between the teams again with their own three-in-a-row of points from Bradley and Cassidy, moving them 0-7 to 0-3 ahead.
Connolly won a free for Nemo that Barry O'Driscoll converted in the last action of the half to leave Slaughtneil with a 0-7 to 0-4 half-time lead.
They were full value for it with centre-back Christopher McKaigue edging his personal duel with Kerrigan and setting up Cassidy's second point.
O'Doherty was terrific throughout the first-half for Slaughtneil who weaved some excellent passing movements though consistently ran into a fortified Nemo defence.
Their big concern was that just a goal separated the sides as they deserved to be further clear. And Nemo Rangers duly took advantage of the situation with a storming second-half to turn the game on its head.
They were terrific in the third quarter in particular and outscored Slaughtneil by 1-5 to 0-0 between the 34th and 44th minutes to take an unlikely 1-9 to 0-8 lead.
A terrific turnover by Nemo midfielder Alan O'Donovan on Ronan Bradley in the 39th minute was greeted like a score by the southerners who took huge energy from it.
O Se was inspired in this period and scored his second point before playing a key role in Connolly's 44th minute goal.
He fed Conor Horgan whose point attempt dropped short though Connolly improvised with a clever flicked effort that broke down favourably for him to boot home.
Slaughtneil looked stunned but somehow turned things around with an excellent finally 20 minutes or so. Bradley kicked back to back points before sub Se McGuigan's high ball in broke kindly for O'Doherty to net from close range in the 50th minute.
Bradley eventually forced extra-time with his 64th minute free when Karl McKaigue was fouled though Nemo dominated extra-time, impressively outscoring their opponents by 1-7 to 0-2 in the additional 20 minutes.
Scorers for Nemo Rangers: Luke Connolly 2-5 (3fs), Barry O'Driscoll 0-5 (4fs), Paul Kerrigan 0-3, Tomas O Se 0-2, Conor Horgan 0-1, Jack Horgan 0-1, Jack Donovan 0-1, Stephen Cronin 0-1.
*Scorers for Slaughtneil: *Christopher Bradley 0-9 (6fs), Cormac O'Doherty 1-0, Shane McGuigan 0-2, Brian Cassidy 0-2, Se McGuigan 0-1.
NEMO RANGERS: Micheal Aodh Martin; Alan Cronin, Aidan O'Reilly, Kevin O'Donovan; Tomas O Se, Stephen Cronin, Kevin Fulignati; Alan O'Donovan, Jack Horgan; Barry O'Driscoll, Paul Kerrigan, Colin O'Brien; Paddy Gumley, Luke Connolly, Ciaran Dalton.
Subs: Conor Horgan for Gumley (22), Jack Donovan for Jack Horgan (59), Michael Dorgan for A O'Donovan (64). Colm Kiely for Dalton (76), Ross Donovan for Martin (77), Adrian Grainey for Connolly (81).
SLAUGHTNEIL: Antoin McMullan; Paul McNeill, Brendan Rodgers, Karl McKaigue; Keelan Feeney, Christopher McKaigue, Francis McEldowney; Patsy Bradley, Padraig Cassidy; Shane McGuigan, Ronan Bradley, Meehaul McGrath; Christopher Bradley, Cormac O'Doherty, Brian Cassidy.
Subs: Barry McGuigan for McEldowney (47), Se McGuigan for McGrath (40). Gerald Bradley for Ronan Bradley (66), Conor McAllister for Feeney (70), Padraig McGuigan for O'Doherty (HT, e/t).
REFEREE: Maurice Deegan (Laois).