Kanturk the kingpins after show of fitness and courage

Kanturk 0-17 Mallow 1-12: Pride of place will go to the Seamus Long Cup at the Kanturk club dinner this year. 

Not alone will they be celebrating that historic day in October 2017 when they became the first club from Duhallow to gain promotion to senior hurling. But also, how they were crowned Cork Premier intermediate hurling champions at the first time of asking. Four years on from winning the intermediate grade, they found their way past Mallow at Páirc Uí Rinn on Saturday night.

It wasn’t an epic, the teams clocked up 35 wides between them.

At the end though, the scoreboard was all that mattered. Kanturk dug it out after a fantastic battle. Their prospects didn’t look bright when Mallow goaled five minutes from time for the lead, and Anthony Nash had a penalty expertly saved by Aidan Long. However, brilliantly led by inter-county players Lorcán McLoughlin, Aidan Walsh, Nash and Darren Browne, they got there.

Captain Lorcan O’Neill feared it was game over when the goal went it.

“I thought it was gone,” admitted O’Neill (a cousin of Mallow captain Fionn O’Neill). “It was heart in the mouth time. It just goes to show the fight and the fitness levels of the lads that we finished so strong. It is absolutely unreal. Thankfully we pulled it out of the bag. I can’t believe it.

“We sat down in the dressing room and we assessed things at half-time. We were two points up but we hadn’t played that well. We were down two players (injuries) but that is when you show your character. We have showed character all year. We beat Charleville twice. We beat a very good Ballinhassig side. You find out a lot about yourself when you go in against teams like them.”

For Mallow the defeat was another cruel blow, and the wait since 1972 goes on. They never reached the heights we have seen from them all season and that will be most disappointing.

Yet, when Gerry Hayes scrambled the ball over the line on 55 minutes they were in front by two. Kanturk won it in the final eight minutes (five plus three additional), angling over four great points in response.

Mallow led 0-4 to 0-2 after quarter of an hour, Donal Relihan pointing three of these. Two goalbound shots were also saved when points were for the taking. It wasn’t long before Kanturk levelled through Alan Sheehy and Aidan Walsh. Relihan banged over his fourth point but there were missed opportunities on both sides.

Kanturk began to gain control. An Aidan Walsh point was followed by two from Lorcán McLoughlin – one from play and the dead ball – and significantly they held a 0-7 to 0-5 lead at the change of ends. Mallow saw another good chance of goal go amiss when the unmarked Aaron Sheehan had the misfortune to slip as the sliotar came to him.

Paul Lyons got the scoresheet up and running in the second half and when Sean Hayes sent over a free, the margin was one. This is how the game played out for the next 10 minutes. As soon as Mallow came close, Kanturk pulled away. Ian Walsh and chief scorer Lorcán McLoughlin doing the needful this time, 0-10 to 0-7.

Mallow were working hard, but like Kanturk, their shooting was letting them down. Influential substitute Kevin Sheehan and a huge Killian O’Connor free reduced the gap to one, but once more Lorcán McLoughlin replied.

Mallow enjoyed their best spell between 48 and 55 minutes when they amassed 1-3 to Kanturk’s two points. But, critically Nash pulled off another sublime save from Gerry Hayes. While Hayes did beat the custodian following a long delivery from sub Sheehan, Mallow failed to push on.

Nash could afford to have his penalty stopped following a foul on substitute Martin O’Riordan as Ian Walsh, Lorcán McLoughlin (2) and Ryan Walsh closed out in a high-pressure finale.

Scorers for Kanturk:

L McLoughlin (0-8, 0-4 frees), A Walsh (0-3), I Walsh (0-2), R Walsh, L O’Keeffe (free), D Kenneally and A Sheehy (0-1 each).

Scorers for Mallow:

G Hayes (1-1), D Relihan (0-4), S Hayes (0-3 frees), K O’Connor (free), P Lyons, C Murphy and K Sheehan (0-1 each).

KANTURK:

A Nash; P Walsh, J McLoughlin, E O’Connor; L O’Neill (Capt), D Browne, A Sheehy; L McLoughlin, R Walsh; J Browne, I Walsh, D Kenneally; A O’Keeffe, A Walsh, L O’Keeffe.

Subs:

M Healy for E O’Connor (20 inj), J Fitzpatrick for L O’Keeffe (half-time inj), M O’Riordan for A O’Keeffe (55)

MALLOW:

A Long; J O’Hanlon, K O’Connor, R Mills; D Moynihan, F O’Neill (Capt), A Luttrell; P Lyons, D Hayes; P Herlihy, C Murphy, D Relihan; S Hayes, G Hayes, A Sheehan.

Subs:

K Sheehan for A Sheehan (38), B Carey for P Herlihy (48), C Hannon for A Luttrell (59 inj).

Referee:

Cathal McAllister (Aghada).


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