A powerful second-half display swept them seven points clear with a minute of normal time to play. However, 1-2 from Kiskeam in added time reduced the margin to a goal, but Mallow were already on their way to the penultimate round.
The North Cork side scored 1-12 in that second 30 minutes and but for 14 wides (to Kiskeam’s five) the winning margin would have been much greater.
Unfortunately for Kiskeam, the turning point arrived eight minutes into the new half when goalkeeper Daniel Cronin was dispossessed by Pa Herlihy as he emerged from goal. The Duhallow side led 1-7 to 1-3 at this juncture but once Herlihy planted the ball in the net, Mallow cut loose, scoring 11 points to Kiskeam’s three.
Billy Dennehy, who finished with 2-7 for Kiskeam, threw his side a lifeline with a penalty five minutes into injury time, but it was too late.
Mallow had the perfect start with a goal from Colin Stanton, but, surprisingly, they didn’t score again for more than 20 minutes, while Kiskeam settled with Mickey Herlihy and Billy Dennehy prominent in attack.
Kiskeam edged 0-5 to 1-0 ahead before Donal Relihan, Cian O’Riordan and Eoin Stanton pointed. But, the Duhallow men finished the half strong, with Mike Casey landing a superb 45m.
Kiskeam held a 0-7 to 1-3 interval lead, and when Billy Dennehy rattled the net, fielding a delivery from midfielder Mike Casey within 30 seconds of the restart, they went four points clear. O’Riordan landed a difficult free to cut the gap to three before Herlihy’s unrelenting pressure on 48 minutes brought Mallow’s second goal, 2-4 to 1-7.
Mallow were confident after this, and the scores started to flow. Hurl Dockery nabbed a point from a free before influential sub Aaron Sheehan found the target. Defenders Matty Taylor and Michael Murphy combined for a super point before O’Riordan and Sheehan kicked another two.
All the while, Kiskeam could only score one white flag, that from Billy Dennehy.
At the end of the third quarter Mallow had moved four points clear. And with five minutes left, the scoreboard now read 2-13 to 1-9. Herlihy cut the deficit to six points, but Mallow upped the ante once more through Dockery and O’Riordan. As the minutes ticked down, Billy Dennehy and Herlihy kicked points, and while Dennehy’s penalty provided a nervous finish, Mallow had done enough to see them through.
Scorers for Mallow: C O’Riordan 0-6 (0-2 frees, 0-1 sl), C Stanton and P Herlihy (0-1 45m) 1-1 each, A Sheehan and H Dockery (0-1 free) 0-2 each, E Stanton, D Relihan and M Murphy 0-1.
Scorers for Kiskeam: B Dennehy 2-7 (1-0 pen, 0-3 frees), M Herlihy 0-3, M Casey (45m) and G Casey 0-1 each.
MALLOW: C Sheehan; L Dockery, K McCarthy, M Murphy; D Kerrisk, C Kerrisk (C), M Taylor; H Dockery, D Relihan; C O’Riordan, E Stanton, R Harkin; P Herlihy, C Stanton, K O’Connor.
Subs: A Sheehan for R Harkin (28), R Harkin for D Relihan (54), J Hayes for P Herlihy (57 inj).
KISKEAM: D Cronin; D O’Sullivan, J Dennehy (C), DJ Casey; AJ O’Connor, P O’Leary, D Lenihan; E O’Mahony, M Casey; D Fitzgerald, S Lenihan, R Carroll; B Dennehy, M Herlihy, G Casey.
Subs: N Cronin for S Lenihan (50).
Referee: N Barrett (Carrigtwohill).