Sudden end to Mallow’s season
MALLOW’S championship year came to a sudden and disappointing end on home soil yesterday as the Cork Premier Intermediate Champions lost out to Kerry’s representatives, An Ghaeltacht, in front of a huge sun-drenched crowd.
The Cork side played second best for almost the entire game with just one or two moments of real quality to savour on what transpired to be a tough day at the office. Led by Matty Taylor, James Loughrey and Cian O’Riordan, Mallow tried everything in their power to control what was a rampant free-scoring Kerry side. On the day, seven different scorers showed that the Kerry champions had the ability to score from anywhere. It took seven minutes for any side to trouble the scorekeeper before An Ghaeltacht’s wing-forward PJ Mac Láimh split the posts with a scintillating score.
Mallow responded almost immediately with a brilliant point from Eoin Stanton. Stanton’s rasping effort could easily have been a goal, but the shot just skimmed the top of the crossbar.
A surging run from Éanna Ó’Conchuir set up another score for the Kerry side, however, a storming break and a finish worthy of a top Premiership footballer from Mallow’s Killian O’Connor brought Mallow back to an unlikely parity on the quarter hour mark. An Ghaeltacht impressed for the next 15 minutes with some clinical runs and some equally clinical finishing as Éanna Ó Conchúir, Dara Ó Sé and midfield general Seán Ó Gairbhí all registered scores to open up a fully deserved five-point lead.
Despite being outplayed for long periods the home side were still in touching distance, mainly it must be said thanks to some serious luck as well as the heroics of their young keeper Kevin Doyle. The Mallow number one saved brilliantly from Ó Conchúir before seeing the ball come flying back from his own crossbar minutes later from a Seán Ó Conchúir shot. A brace of further scores from the Kingdom side were cancelled out by a pair from O’Riordan which sent the sides in at the break 0-11 to 1-3.
There was little doubt that if Mallow were to claw back the interval gap they would need to get to the pace of their opponents right from the start of the second half.
With less than a minute on the clock the men in red and yellow were cut open by a magnificent ball from Éanna Ó Conchúir which found the onrushing Seán Ó Conchúir, who fisted home delightfully to seemingly all but end the question of who was going to advance to the provincial final.
Mallow had a chance to cut the gap moments later, however, Kieran O’Sullivan blasted wide when a goal looked like the obvious outcome.
Another brace of points from An Ghaeltacht opened up a nine-point gap as Mallow began to struggle all over the pitch. Runs from Taylor and Ryan Harkin continued to cause problems for An Ghaeltacht who looked to be a little weak up the middle however when the Kerry side got the ball out wide there usually was only one result.
Credit to Mallow, they battled all the way to the end even losing corner-back Bill Myres to a late red but on the day there was no denying who the better side were and to be fair by some margin.
Dara Ó Sé, An Ghaeltacht, winning this ball from Matthew Taylor, Mallow, during their Munster Intermediate football championship semi-final at Mallow.