Im­pres­sive Mal­low are truly back in the big time

The Corkman - - SPORT - NOEL HOR­GAN Pairc Uí Rinn

Mal­low 1-16 Cloyne 1-12

NARROWLY de­feated by the even­tual cham­pi­ons at the semi fi­nal stage of the PIHC in 2015 and 2016, Mal­low made it third time lucky when com­ing out on top against Cloyne at Pairc Uí Rinn last Satur­day evening.

Not that their vic­tory was in any way for­tu­itous, even if it was hard­earned, achieved with more sweat than swag­ger on a night when the test­ing un­der­foot con­di­tions left lit­tle room for frills.

It fea­tured a com­pelling per­for­mance from cor­ner for­ward Aaron Shee­han, a sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion from Cor­mac Mur­phy at cen­tre-for­ward, and a com­mand­ing de­fen­sive dis­play af­ter the in­ter­val which ul­ti­mately proved de­ci­sive.

Pre­dictably, Cloyne bat­tled all the way, with the re­sult that Mal­low, de­spite shap­ing up like win­ners from the three-quar­ter mark on­wards, couldn’t af­ford to breathe eas­ily un­til ‘keeper Alan Long brought off a su­perb save to deny the East-Cork side a goal in the 54th minute.

Five points adrift at the time, Cloyne cut the gap sec­onds later through a con­verted ‘65 by Paudie O’Sul­li­van, whose at­tempt to grab a con­so­la­tion goal from a free was foiled deep in stop­page time. They looked the more con­vinc­ing side early on, forg­ing 0-3 to 0-1 ahead inside five min­utes.

Af­ter Sean Hayes was off-tar­get from a free for Mal­low, Diar­muid O’Sul­li­van pushed Cloyne three points ahead, and things cer­tainly weren’t go­ing ac­cord­ing to plan for the pre-match favourites at that junc­ture.

Cor­mac Mur­phy, mak­ing life ex­tremely dif­fi­cult for Cloyne’s veteran cen­tre back Kil­lian Cronin, and mid­fielder De­nis Hayes dis­played en­cour­ag­ing form for Mal­low from the out­set, and, af­ter Mur­phy posted his sec­ond point, Hayes did the spade­work for a well-taken goal by Aaron Shee­han in the 11th minute.

That was the sig­nal for Mal­low to move up the gears, with Mur­phy and Shee­han to the fore up front, as they eased into a four-point lead mid­way through the first half.

It meant the signs were omi­nous for Cloyne en­ter­ing the sec­ond quar­ter, but the de­ci­sion to move wing back Ian Cahill to the piv­otal po­si­tion on Cor­mac Mur­phy helped to sta­bilise their de­fence be­fore half time.

Mal­low were 1-7 to 0-6 to the good af­ter Aaron Shee­han pointed in the 21st minute, but they were rocked back on their heels two min­utes later when Colm O’Sul­li­van bagged a goal for Cloyne.

The chance came about af­ter wing for­ward Dil­lon Cahill made a de­fence-split­ting run be­fore bring­ing the best out of Alan Long, who was pow­er­less to pre­vent O’Sul­li­van from fin­ish­ing the re­bound to the net.

O’Sul­li­van quickly tacked on a point to level mat­ters, and Cloyne went in at half-time lead­ing by 1-9 to 0-8, cour­tesy of a late score from in­flu­en­tial mid­fielder Paudie O’Sul­li­van.

The lat­ter was on tar­get again within a minute of the re­sump­tion, but, as things tran­spired, Cloyne added to just two points to their tally for the rest of the match, both of which were reg­is­tered by O’Sul­li­van from placed balls.

Kil­lian O’Con­nor, Fionn O’Neill and Jack O’Han­lon rarely put a foot astray in the Mal­low rear­guard be­fore the break, but their de­fence per­formed most cred­itably as a unit in the sec­ond half, with Alec Lut­trell mak­ing a huge im­pres­sion fol­low­ing his in­tro­duc­tion at wing-back.

Pa Herlihy, play­ing a deep role at wing for­ward, also did his bit to cur­tail Cloyne’s progress, and he com­pleted a pow­er­ful run from the back with the best point of the match in the 47th minute.

That made it 1-13 to 1-11, and fur­ther points fol­lowed from Aaron Shee­han (2) and Kevin Shee­han, as Mal­low posted six unan­swered scores in all be­tween the 44th and 51st min­utes.

They were clearly the bet­ter team in the sec­ond half when sub­sti­tute Kevin Shee­han paid his way at mid­field, Gerry Hayes made his pres­ence felt at full for­ward on oc­ca­sions, and ace free-taker Sean Hayes chipped in with three im­por­tant points.

In a last throw of the dice, Cloyne switched Ian Cahill to at­tack, and it took Alan Long’s su­perb save to pre­vent him from rekin­dling their fad­ing hopes in the clos­ing stages when their sec­ond half tale of woe was com­pleted by the dis­missal of Kil­lian Cronin, who was issued with a straight red-card.

It was a job well done by Mal­low, and it leaves the club just one game away from gain­ing se­nior sta­tus for the first time since they con­tested a county in­ter­me­di­ate fi­nal re­play, which was lost to Kil­leagh, in 2001.

Scor­ers

MAL­LOW: A Shee­han 1-5, S Hayes 0-5 (4f, 1’65), C Mur­phy 0-4, P Herlihy and K Shee­han 0-1 each

CLOYNE: P O’Sul­li­van 0-7 (3f, 2’65), C O’Sul­li­van 1-2, K Dennehy, B Walsh and D O’Sul­li­van 0-1 each

MAL­LOW: A Long; J O’Han­lon, K O’Con­nor, R Mills; D Moyni­han, F O’Neill, D Shee­han; P Lyons, D Hayes; P Herlihy, C Mur­phy, D Reli­han; S Hayes, G Hayes, A Shee­han Subs: K Shee­han for Lyons (in­jured), 29, A Lut­trell for D Shee­han, ht, D Buck­ley for Reli­han, 54

CLOYNE: D Og Cu­sack; J Sher­lock, E Mother­way, B Flem­ing; I Cahill, K Cronin, C Smith; P O’Sul­li­van, A Walsh; D Cahill, D O’Sul­li­van, K Dennehy; C O’Sul­li­van, S Beau­sang, B Walsh Subs: E O’Sul­li­van for Sher­lock, 23, C Mullins for Beau­sang, 34, B Mini­hane for D Cahill, 42, M Lynch for B Walsh, 53, D Jermyn for A Walsh, 59

REF­EREE: S Stokes (Tul­lylease)

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