A tight championship game including two early black card offences was tied on four separate occasions and in which Mallow never led by more than two points until Micheál O’Rourke’s late intervention secured his side’s safe passage into round 2A.
The Avondhu club were 0-12 to 0-10 ahead with six minutes to go but struggling to put away a dogged Bantry before a sweeping move ended with O’Rourke firing low past Donal Casey.
“God, that was one tough game and it could have gone either way to be absolutely honest with you,” admitted relieved Mallow bainisteoir Paddy Sheahan shortly after the full time whistle.
“It was dog-eat-dog for most of the hour but we expected nothing less from a Bantry Blues club that was up in the senior ranks only a few years ago. In fairness to our lads, their heads never dropped and we were just that little bit stronger right at the end.” The midfield tandem of Eoin Staunton and James Loughrey laid the foundation for Mallow’s win and their battle with Seanie O’Leary and Kevin Casey was one of the highlights of an entertaining hour’s play.
Along with their hardworking midfielders, Mallow were indebted to full-forward Cian O’Riordan who finished with seven points and was ably assisted by the hardworking Pa Herlihy and Killian O’Connor.
Bantry will be disappointed to have lost a game they were in with a chance of winning up until conceding that late O’Rourke goal. The west Cork club’s shooting left a lot to be desired however, kicking ten wides and rarely troubling Mallow goalkeeper Kevin Doyle. Cork senior Ruairi Deane produced a typically barnstorming display until retiring injured with a nasty-looking knee injury.
There was little to choose between the sides following an even opening half in which the Avondhu club changed ends 0-7 to 0-6 ahead.
Arthur Coakley led Bantry’s fight back at the beginning of the second period but Kevin Sheehan, Killian O’Connor (free) and Ryan Harkin efforts kept Mallow 0-10 to 0-9 ahead heading into the final quarter.
The Blues suffered a setback after 46 minutes, losing Deane to injury and fell further behind when Cian O’Riordan raised two consecutive white flags. Micheál O’Rourke’s goal ended the tie as a contest ahead of a Pa Herlihy effort that concluded the scoring with Mallow 1-13 to 0-10 in front.
The winners reward for safely negotiating their opening championship fixture is a round 2A clash with Béal Áthan Ghaorthaidh while Bantry Blues are scheduled to meet Newmarket in round 2B.
C. O’Riordan 0-7 (2 frees), M. O’Rourke 1-0, K. O’Connor, P. Herlihy 0-2 each, R. Harkin, K. Sheehan 0-1 each.
A. Coakley 0-6 (4 frees), R. Deane 0-2 (1 free), S. O’Leary (1 45) and D. Power 0-1 each.
K. Doyle; S. Coughlan, A. Cashman, B. Myers; C. Staunton, J. McGuinness, M. Taylor; E. Staunton, J. Loughrey; K. Sheehan, K. O’Connor, R. Harkin; P. Herlihy, C. O’Riordan, M. O’Rourke.
T. McEvoy for M. Taylor (17, black card), D. Sheehan for C. Staunton (55, injured).
D. Casey; J. Downey, R. O’Mahony, C. O’Leary; G. Canty, T. Cronin, N. Canty; S. O’Leary, K. Casey; S. O’Neill, R. Deane, G. O’Shea; D. Power, D. Daly, A. Coakley.
K. Deane for C. O’Leary (9, black card), C. Power for R. Deane (48, injured), S. Delaney for D. Power (55).
N. Wall (Carrigaline).