BY DENIS HURLEY
NEMO Rangers have supplied more captains than anyone else to the Cork senior football team.
Since Billy Morgan led the Rebels to the All-Ireland title in 1973, his fellow Nemo men Jimmy Barrett, Dinny Allen (three times), Brian Murphy (twice), Jimmy Kerrigan, Tony Nation, Steven O’Brien, Colin Corkery (twice), Martin Cronin and Derek Kavanagh (twice) have all skippered Cork.
Just before Cork’s Allianz Football League Division 1 opener with Mayo in Páirc Uí Rinn last Sunday came the news that Paul Kerrigan had become the 11th Nemo man to be appointed as the county’s senior captain.
He brings a good track-record with him – in 2004, he led Coláiste Chríost Rí to the Corn Uí Mhuirí and in both 2005 and ’06 he captained Cork to the Munster U21FC. Most recently, last October he was the man to lift the Andy Scannell Cup as Nemo ended a five-year wait for their 19th county senior championship.
Having the responsibility of being the on-field general brought another dimension to Kerrigan’s game, in the view of another Nemo legend, Joe Kavanagh. He expects the same to happen at inter-county level now.
‘He was captain of Nemo last year and maybe that extra responsibility brought him on as a player,’ Kavanagh told The Southern Star.
‘For the last few years, he was in and out of the Cork team, he might be taken off a lot or wasn’t starting, rightly or wrongly. Maybe this kind of approach, the hand around the shoulder, can inspire him and you’d get more out of him on a consistent basis rather than in fits and bursts.
‘It’s great when he goes it, hopefully now the captaincy will give him the drive to go and do it throughout a game. The type of player he is, I don’t think he has always been utilised properly over the years and that might change too.’
The demand of leadership from Kerrigan, whether implicit or explicit, has always been present.
‘It was expected of him, in a way,’ Kavanagh says.
‘That’s the way it is in Nemo, lads are marked out at the age of 14 or 15 as future stars. The fact that he was Jimmy’s son then added a bit more pressure, he was always having to live up to his father and what he did. Once he got the All-Ireland, that was put to bed a bit.
‘He was always under pressure to deliver, and he’d probably be the first to admit that – like any player – he couldn’t do it in every game. Having the captaincy now might make him want to deliver more.
‘He’ll be the go-to guy more and that should bring a response.’