But, in the end, it’s all about results and Blarney’s extra bit of flair throughout the park just about gave them the edge on a night both sets of forwards will want to forget.
Just two scores from play sums up Mallow’s frustration, Aaron Sheehan their main man with seven pointed frees. In contrast, all but one of Blarney’s scores came from play, but a total of 14 wides overall needs working on as they prepare to play Newcestown in the quarter-finals.
Absolutely nothing to shout about in the opening half, both sides just that bit too laid back and, as a result, the hurling was tame and lacking drive. Two pointed frees from Mallow’s Aaron Sheehan were cancelled out by nice Barra O’Connell scores from play and the sides were level after eight minutes.
But it was Blarney who subsequently forced the pace. Points from Ross McNamara, Eugene McCarthy and Brian Hurley, who was set up nicely by Joe Jordan, edged them ahead 0-5 to 0-3 after the opening quarter, the quality of the hurling though leaving a lot to be desired.
There was plenty of movement from both sides, Kevin Sheehan and Fionn O’Neill were doing good work for Mallow with Paul O’Leary and Darragh McSweeney strong in the Blarney defence. But there was nothing happening up front, though Mallow keeper Aidan Long did have to make a fine save to deny Blarney corner-forward Colin Murphy a goal in the 24th minute.
Ross McNamara, always a threat, soon doubled Blarney’s lead and then, in the 27th minute, excitement at last, two goals in a minute, one at each end. The first went Mallow’s way after fine work by wing back O’Neill and Tadhg O’Riordan set up Kevin McCarthy for a goal which restored their lead.
However, almost from the puck out, Blarney hit back. John Hurley on target, and it enabled his side to lead 1-6 to 1-5 after a very tame opening half.
The third quarter was equally dreadful, lacking quality, with Blarney shooting six wides in this period. McNamara did increase their lead with a fine point, but Sheehan’s accuracy from placed balls enabled Mallow to stay in touch. Two more frees from the nippy corner-forward had his side level at 1-7 apiece entering the final quarter.
There wasn’t even a grandstand finish. Substitute Eoin O’Connor and O’Connell fired over tasty points for Blarney and although Sheehan converted his seventh free in the 52nd minute to bring the deficit back to a single score, Mallow simply couldn’t buy a score from play.
Mark Cremin, after firing two frees wide, had the final say, converting a ‘65 to seal Blarney’s win. However, they will have much to mull over before they face Newcestown in the quarter-finals.
Scorers for Blarney: J Hurley 1-0, B O’Connell, R McNamara 0-3 each, E McCarthy, B Hurley, E O’Connor, M Cremin (65) 0-1 each.
Scorers for Mallow: A Sheehan 0-7fs, K McCarthy 1-0, J Hayes 0-1.
BLARNEY: R Byrne; J Barrett, D McSweeney, S Walsh; J Hughes, P O’Leary, J Jordan; B Hurley, M O’Leary; E McCarthy, R McNamara, J Hurley; B O’Connell, M Cremin, C Murphy.
Sub: E. O’Connor for Murphy (34).
MALLOW: A Long; C Leahy, G Hayes, J Culloty; F O’Neill, D Kerrisk, S Lane; K Sheehan, J Hayes; S Glynn, T O’Riordan, K McCarthy; P Herlihy, D Hayes, A Sheehan.
Subs: C Hannon for lane (ht), R Downey for McCarthy (41), W O’Donnell for O’Riordan (48).
Referee: D. O’Leary (Watergrasshill).