In a dramatic finish, Diarmuid O’Sullivan went for broke and goal from a free only to find his powerful shot batted away for a ’65. Mallow survived that and another goalmouth scramble in the 65th minute of an intense contest.
In the end, though there was only a puck of the ball in it, the better side won and Mallow now move on to play Newcestown in the last four, a game in which coach Dermot O’Riordan insists his side will start once again as outsiders.
“For us in Mallow, this has been the start of what we figured would be a three- or four-year journey. There are lots of young players in the squad so this is all about gaining experience.
“So far, the boys have done very well. For us to beat a team like Cloyne is massive, there’s ten under 21s in the group.
“Goals were hard to come by, never easy with guys like Donal Óg Cusack around but we stuck to the game-plan and hurled on the outside, got points from long range, got our frees. Our plan was also, of course, to stop them scoring goals and we felt to hold them to two meant we had a chance of winning it.
“The last couple of minutes were scary, but there was a very determined effort in defence and I suppose that overall it all came down to character in the end. That character was just about enough to see us through.”
Cloyne struck for a goal from Audrey Walsh after two minutes and Dillon Cahill’s point gave them a goal advantage.
However, it took the east Cork side another 18 minutes to get their next score, this time a free from Diarmuid O’Sullivan. In between, Mallow cut loose with a flurry of eight points, all but one from play, to establish a decent and well-deserved four-point lead, cut to three when O’Sullivan pointed from another free a minute from the break.
The Mallow scoring hero was Kevin Sheehan with three points, Sean Hayes with two, and Gerry Hayes, Cormac Murphy and Herlihy again with one apiece to help them into an 0-9 to 1-3 lead.
Mallow lost their impetus early in the second half with Cormac Murphy now sidelined having been injured just before the break. The sides each added early second-half points before Keith Dennehy struck for a second Cloyne goal and the equaliser. Diarmuid O’Sullivan grabbed the lead with another pointed free after 38 minutes before Mallow levelled again through Sean Hayes.
Hayes and Ian Cahill exchanged points before Mallow through Hayes, Pa Healy and Paul Lyons regained the lead and pushed it out to three points after 50 minutes.
In the last few minutes, both sides had three points each to set up that marvelously exciting finale which Mallow just survived.
S Hayes (0-6 2 frees, 1 ’65), P Herlihy, K Sheehan (0-3 each), P Lyons (0-2), P Healy, A Sheehan, G Hayes, C Murphy (0-1 each).
A Walsh, K Dennehy (1-0 each), D O’Sullivan (0-5, 4 frees), D Cahill (0-2), G Cahill, C Smith (0-1 each).
P Buckley, J O’Hanlon, K O’Connor, D Sheehan, A Lutrell, F O’Neill (captain), P Healy, C Hannon, M Maher, C Murphy, G Hayes, P Herlihy, A Sheehan, K Sheehan, S Hayes.
P Lyons for C Murphy (29, injured), P Healy for M Maher (half-time).
D Og Cusack, E O’Sullivan, S Beausang, B Fleming, B Minihane, K Cronin, C Smith, D O’Sullivan, D Cahill, M Lynch, I Cahill, A Walsh, K Dennehy, D O’Sullivan, P O’Sullivan (captain).
C O’Sullivan for M Lynch (26), J Sherlock for Domhnall O’Sullivan (53), C Cusack for K Dennehy (54)
A Cummins (Ballymartle)