A deserved, but hard-earned, victory for Mallow in the Bon Secours Cork SAFC quarter-final at Blarney on Sunday. Darragh Moynihan’s well-finished goal on the brink of half-time yielded a two-point cushion, and from there they stamped their authority.
They were six points up at different stages in the second half. Bandon brought it back to three at the three-quarter mark, but the brilliance of Cian O’Riordan in attack (1-5) and Mattie Taylor in defence was central to this industrious performance from Keith Moynihan’s side.
It was a very enjoyable game of football too with some great scores throughout. Bandon were well in this match approaching half-time but they failed to build on a competitive first-half.
Next for Mallow is a tasty meeting with fellow Avondhu club Fermoy.
Bandon made a stunning start when Mark Sugrue registered a goal after he broke in along the end-line. It wasn’t long before Mallow negated the score with replies from Michael O’Rourke (free), Cian O’Riordan (free), and full-back James Loughrey on his customary roam upfield.
Sugrue was causing problems as Bandon led by two, forcing Mallow to switch Taylor onto him. Mallow’s first goal came in the 10th minute, blasted home by O’Riordan, 1-3 to 1-2 to the Avondhu men.
The second quarter was a ferocious battle and we were treated to some splendid scores – 11 in all – the teams tied on four occasions, with brilliant points from Mallow’s Ryan Harkin, O’Riordan, captain Eoin Stanton, and Kevin Sheehan.
Bandon were equal to the task, rifling over superb points courtesy of Barry Collins, Sugrue (4), and Ronan Crowley.
Moynihan came near to goal just after the first water break but his effort hit the side netting. The midfielder made no mistake before the interval when he linked up with Sean McDonnell, handing Mallow the initiative. They went on to lead at the short whistle 2-7 to 1-8.
And they had the first four points of the second-half – one of which was a good goal scoring chance only for Bandon goalkeeper Pat Prendergast to save, the rebound was also shut down. O’Rourke then hit the post for another opportunity.
Pa Herlihy, moments on the pitch, put Mallow 2-11 to 1-8 ahead after a hectic 10 minutes of action. All the while, there was no return for Bandon.
It was a three-point match when a goal from Bandon substitute Philip Crowley brought them back into this. Kevin Doyle stopped Cian O’Mahony’s shot but the sub gave his team a lifeline, 2-12 to 2-9.
Both goalkeepers were kept busy. This time, Prendergast denied O’Rourke. Mallow were going for goals, when all they needed was to take their points. Kieran O’Sullivan obliged to extend their lead to four. Moments later, Doyle again had to be alert to parry an attempt from Ronan Crowley.
That let-off allowed Mallow downfield and quickfire points from O’Riordan and substitute Jack Dillon (2) gave them breathing space.
Bandon needed goals to save their championship but Mallow had the necessary quality and ability to fend them off.
Herlihy was sent to the sin bin in stoppage but it was of no consequence.
C O’Riordan (1-5, 0-1 free), D Moynihan (1-0), R Harkin, J Dillon, E Stanton (0-2), J Loughrey, K O’Sullivan, M O’Rourke (free), P Herlihy, K Sheehan (0-1 each).
M Sugrue (1-5, 0-1 free, 0-1 45), P Crowley (1-0), Darren Crowley (0-3), R Crowley, B Collins (0-1 each).
K Doyle; B Myers, J Loughrey, A Cashman; T McEvoy, S Merritt, M Taylor; D Moynihan, E Stanton (capt); K O’Sullivan, R Harkin, M O’Rourke; C O’Riordan, K Sheehan, S Mc Donnell.
P Herlihy for S McDonnell (37), E Kelleher for K Sheehan (41), J Dillon for M O’Rourke (49), P Hennessy for K O’Sullivan (55), D Breen for S Merritt (60).
P Prendergast; J O’Mahony, J O’Donovan (capt), B Crowley; R O’Driscoll, P Murphy, D O’Donovan; R Long, David Crowley; C O’Mahony, M Sugrue, Darren Crowley; M Cahalane, B Collins, R Crowley.
J Walsh for R Long (half-time), J Mulcahy for David Crowley (40), P Crowley for D O’Donovan (43), M O’Regan for M Cahalane (46).
R Whelan (Aghada).