PASSION, pride, local rivalry. They were all there in abundance in this non stop Evening Echo Cork Co Premier IFC decider at Páirc Uí Rinn on Saturday where Mallow taught Killavullen two valuable lessons – there’s no substitute for experience and you’ve got to take your chances.
You simply have to admire Mallow’s resilience. Relegated last season, then getting a trouncing from Newcestown in the opening round of their new venture — things were looking mighty gloomy.
But now this fabulous road to redemption, victory in a mile-a-minute decider, although Mallow selector Ronan Sheehan was visibly gutted it had to be their near neighbours who suffered.
“My heart goes out to Killavullen, I wish it was some other side we’d beaten. I know most of these guys, I’ve played with a lot of them on Avondhu divisional teams.
“But we needed this win, Mallow is a big town, we have a great new complex now and it’s important to keep the youngsters motivated. The lads put in a great effort tonight, I’m proud of every one of them, they’ve been tremendous all year. We’re back up quickly and ready for a whole new challenge now.”
Certainly Killavullen will be gutted, for they put a lot into a compelling final with no reward. In the end they had no-one with the class of man of the match Cian O’Riordan up front. He popped over four important points, with John O’Sullivan’s 10th minute goal and two outstanding saves by goalkeeper Colman Sheehan also of paramount importance.
Killavullen looked lively from the opening whistle. Brian O’Driscoll was their midfield general and playmaker and inside the opening five minutes they went two points clear compliments of frees from the Dorgan brothers, Declan and Liam.
Big Donal Relihan, always the target man up front, was proving a menace to the Mallow rearguard and it took a timely block by full-back Kevin McCarthy to deny O’Driscoll a certain goal.
But Mallow, too, had their chances. O’Riordan blasted two efforts hopelessly wide and Noel Dinan was also wasteful. But it all came right for Mallow in the 10th minute when O’Sullivan picked up a ball at midfield and was allowed ghost through the Killavullen defence for a goal that, in essence, won the game for Mallow.
Mallow upped the pace a notch now, O’Riordan at last found his range and they led 1-1 to 0-2 after the opening quarter.
Super football in the second period, terrific running on and off the ball, with Killavullen particularly impressive. Brian and Ian O’Driscoll were super and with Relihan continuing to cause trouble up front the Mallow defence had to be on their toes. Joe O’Neill blasted a shot against the crossbar – it should have been a goal. Liam Dorgan also hit the upright — it seemed nothing was going right for Killavullen despite some great attacking play.
But then Liam Dorgan pointed two frees and it took a fabulous quick reaction save by Mallow keeper Sheehan to deny Relihan a goal Killavullen would have richly deserved.
All a bit frantic now, plenty of chances wasted in the five added minutes of injury time and Mallow were rather flattered to be level at the break, 1-2 to 0-5, thanks to O’Riordan’s levelling free.
Mallow needed to inject a bit more pace in the second-half and the introductions of Mark Buckley and Sam Cronin certainly helped that. After Liam Dorgan missed an easy free chance for Killavullen, Mallow showed them that scores win matches as Patrick Dineen, Mark O’Brien and O’Riordan - a real beauty - in turn hurt Killavullen big time.
All the losers could muster was a point from Ian O’Driscoll as the winners, working their socks off, led 1-5 to 0-6 entering the final quarter.
Mistakes aplenty now. O’Neill missed an easy chance for Killavullen and from the resultant kick-out substitute Buckley made them pay at the other end. Killavullen tried everything to save the game, Sheehan again coming to the rescue when Relihan looked certain to get that equalising goal.
But it wasn’t to be. They threw the kitchen sink at the Mallow rearguard, Dineen getting his marching orders late on for a dangerous tackle on Colm O’Connell. But there was no salvation, Mallow are the kings of Avondhu and back in the big time.
Scorers: Mallow: C. O’Riordan 0-4 (0-1 free), J. O’Sullivan 1-0, P. Dineen, M. O’Brien, (free), M. Buckley 0-1 each. Killavullen: L. Dorgan 0-3 (0-2 frees), A. O’Driscoll 0-2 (0-1 free), D. Dorgan 0-1 (free), I. O’Driscoll 0-1.
MALLOW: C. Sheehan; J. Collins, K. McCarthy, B. Doyle; C. Kerrisk, K. O’Halloran, P. O’Riordan; D. Kerrisk, J. O’Sullivan; M. O’Brien, P. Dineen, H. Dockery; N. Dinan, C. O’Riordan, J. Hayes.
Subs: M. Buckley for Dockery (ht), S. Cronin for Dinan (ht), D. Hayes for McCarthy ((47m), S, Coughlan for P. O’Riordan (60).
KILLAVULLEN: M. Carroll; J. O’Regan, A. Brennan, B. Norris; B. Hayes, I. O’Driscoll; C. O’Connell; B. O’Driscoll, P. Hartnett; J. O’Neill, L. Dorgan, D. Hartnett; D. Dorgan, D. Relihan, A. O’Driscoll.
Subs: I. O'Gorman for D. Dorgan (39m), E. linehan for L. Dorgan (55m).
Referee: J. Dorgan (Nemo Rangers).
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