It was a barely believable climax as Clyda, often exposed and outclassed by Mallow’s incisive attacking, fought back from being five points down to go one in front by the 65th minute, only for Cian O’Riordan to hold his nerve to kick an equalising point from a 45m free to give Mallow a deserved draw.
A huge crowd packed into the venue and Clyda looked likely winners early in the game after scorching into a 0-4 to 0-1 lead, only to collapse in the face of Mallow’s superb recovery, which saw them take a four-point lead into half time.
Mallow owed their recovery to outstanding full-forward David Hayes who caused havoc in the Clyda defence every time the football came his way, and the Mourneabbey side were forced to try three different defenders on him to try and curtail his influence.
It was only when county senior Ray Carey was given the task that Hayes’ influence was greatly reduced but not before he grabbed his side’s opening goal and tacked on a point for good measure to give his side an interval lead of 1-5 to 0-4.
The second-half developed in to a tremendous contest as Clyda sought to retrieve the situation, but by the end of the third quarter Mallow had their five-point half-time lead still intact and were shaping as likely winners.
It was going to take a Clyda goal to turn this game around and they enjoyed a huge sliced of good fortune in the 50th minute when Paudie Kissane — now hugely influential at midfield — saw his shot across the face of the Mallow goal, take a wicked deflection off a defender for a rather fortuitous goal.
That goal was a massive fillip to Clyda and as the tension began to mount, they laid siege to Mallow’s goal. Kissane was inspirational for the Rovers and amid tremendous excitement, he levelled this superb contest with two points from frees.
Clyda were rampant and when Cian O’Sullivan knocked over the lead point they looked to have finally broken the Mallow challenge.
However, there was one final twist in this extraordinary contest. With the game now in the 65th minute — difficult to know where the five minutes injury-time came from — a superb interception by full-back Kevin O’Halloran, saw Mallow sweep the ball down field where the outstanding Joe Hayes was grounded and team captain Cian O’Riordan pointed the resultant free to earn his side a replay.
Scorers for Clyda: J Murphy (2fs), P Kissane (2fs), C O’Sullivan 0-3 each, K McCarthy 1-0 (og), C Flanagan 0-1.
Scorers for Mallow: C. O’Riordan 0-6 (4fs), D Hayes 1-2, E Murphy, K Sheehan 0-1 each.
CLYDA ROVERS: C Conway; N Mullane, C Buckley, C Kenny; R Carey, O O’Hanlon, K Fitzgerald; F O’Shea, P Kissane; C Flanagan, P O’Mullane, G Carey; Cian O’Sullivan, Conor O’Sullivan, J Murphy.
Subs: J O’Sullivan for Buckley (35), D O’Brien for J. Murphy (45).
MALLOW: C Qulligan; M Murphy, K O’Halloran, Jerry Hayes; L Dockery, C Kerrick, D Kerrisk; Joe Hayes, H Dockery; C O’Riordan, K Sheehan, E Murphy; E Sexton, D Hayes, B O’Halloran.
Subs: K McCarthy for J Hayes (35), A Hogan for O’Halloran (40), D Relihan for E Murphy (55).
Referee: J Birmingham (Bride Rovers).