Despite a late scare, a strong second-half showing helped them claim victory – it was their first title since 2007 and their third overall. It comes a week after the club’s Premier IHC final lost to Kanturk.
After a nip and tuck first-half the teams were deadlocked 0-7 apiece and were tied on four occasions. St Michael’s going 0-5 to 0-3 clear after 10 minutes with midfielder Niall Cashman kicking two fine points for St Michael’s.
Mallow fought back to move a point ahead with five minutes to go – Matthew Taylor, James Loughrey and Cian O’Riordan all on target. A Paul Cronin free levelled matters in stoppage time.
A good start to the second-half saw Mallow go four up courtesy of three points from O’Riordan. By the three-quarter mark, the north Cork side were 0-13 to 0-10 ahead. However, a 52nd minute goal from Shane O’Keeffe brought St Michael’s back into it, 1-12 to 0-14. But when substitute Aaron Sheehan netted in injury time, Mallow held out.
So more heartbreak for St Michaels after another galling one point defeat in the Cork Premier Intermediate Football final at Pairc Ui Chaoimh.
But in the bowels of the magnificent new Pairc Ui Chaoimh stadium, St Michael’s team manager John Holly promised that the club would not alone survive but prosper after this latest setback.
Admitting he found words of consolation for his brave charges impossible, he related the story of Clyda Rovers who had similar trauma at this level before finally making it to the Promised Land and, in their first season at senior level, they reached the County quarterfinals.
“It’s hard to articulate how we all feel; it’s cruel, that’s championship football when only one team can win it at the end of the day. We got caught by a late sucker punch and that’s the hardest thing to recover from.
There’s frustration and devastation all rolled into one from the players’ perspective, there’s all kinds of emotions in the dressing room right now, they’re hurting and they’ll be hurting for a bit yet, but I have no doubt they will recover.”
Having lost three finals by a single point, the only consolation was that St Michael’s easily bettered their previous two totals of 11 points when scoring 1-16. Yet, in a sense, however, losing after scoring a very decent total was even more frustrating.
“Yes, when you score that type of total you would think it would be enough to win most games but nearly every final in the Premier grade is close and Mallow were always in the hunt. Thing is they managed to score more than us, a bare point but more at the same time.
“You have to be a really good team to get to a final at this level and a really good team to win it. Look at Valley Rovers and what they have done since they went up senior, look at Clyda and where they are now.
“It’s tough on us but we have to keep going and I know, if these lads put in the same effort next season that they did this year, the rewards will come. They will get over the line eventually and I have no doubt that this group is good enough to play senior football. If they keep it going, they have what it takes to play at a higher level, I’m sure of that.”
C O’Riordan (0-7, 0-3 frees), A Sheehan (1-0), M Taylor, J Loughrey and K O’Sullivan (0-1 free) and (0-2 each), M Quirke, C Stokes, R Harkin and P Herlihy (0-1 each).
P Cronin (0-6, 0-5 frees), S O’Keeffe (1-0), E Hegarty (0-3, 0-1 free),N Cashman and L O’Sullivan (0-2 each), D Meaney, K Hegarty and D Cremin (0-1 each).
K Doyle; M Quirke, J Loughrey, B Myers; J McGuinness, M Taylor, A Cahill; D Hayes, E Stanton; C Stokes, K O’Connor, R Harkin; K Sheehan, C O’Riordan, K O’Sullivan.
T McEvoy for J McGuinness (48), P Herlihy for D Hayes (49), C Lynch for C Stokes (54), A Sheehan for K Sheehan (56).
M Burke; L Carroll, A O’Callaghan, K O’Sullivan; D Meaney, A Murphy, S Keating; S O’Keeffe, N Cashman; P Cronin, E Hegarty, D Cremin; C Sugrue, E Buckley, L O’Sullivan.
T Lenihan for A O’Callaghan (BC 17), M Drummond for D Cremin (27), T Deasy for C Sugrue, M Mulconry for E Buckley (both half-time), K Hegarty for L O’Sullivan (55), D Cremin for M Drummond (58).
David Murnane (Macroom).