Mallow back in Senior Football ranks for 2018

St Michael’s…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….….1-16
After the heartbreak the previous weekend for their intermediate hurlers in the Premier IHC final against Kanturk, it was Mallow’s Intermediate footballers turn to taste success in this year’s Premier IFC decider against St Michael’s with the Avondhu side emerging victorious in the end by the narrowest of margins on Sunday in Pairc Ui Chaoimh.
In a highly competitive and entertaining tussle the issue was in doubt till the end. The opening stages saw both sets of forwards quick into action for their respective sides and by the 7th minute six different players figured on the scoreboard when Kieran O’Sullivan, Niall Cashman, Conor Stokes, Cian O’Riordan, Daniel Meaney and Liam O’Sullivan were on target with minors that tied matters at 0-3 apiece. St Michael’s who were narrowly defeated in last year’s final hit the front when Daniel Meaney and Eoghan Buckley combined well to set up Niall Cashman for a well taken point. Two minutes later they moved two clear when a quickly taken free by Eric Hegarty found Liam O’Sullivan for a well taken point. The game’s first goal scoring chance came Mallow’s way in the 12th minute when Kevin Sheehan placed Cian O’Riordan whose attempt at goal was deflected out for a ‘45’. The quickly taken ‘45’ by Ryan Harkin found Mattie Taylor who kicked over from distance. St. Michael’s response was immediate and from the kick out their best forward Paul Cronin kicked over a marvellous point. The City side missed a chance to extend their lead at the end of the first quarter when Paul Cronin was denied by a fine save by the Mallow keeper Kevin Doyle. The lead was reduced to a point when good play by Eoin Stanton and Mattie Taylor resulted in a Cian O’Riordan point. St. Michael’s were dealt a massive blow soon after when they had their full back Alan O’Callaghan who featured strongly up to this stage black carded. Mallow enjoyed a good spell over the next couple of minutes. James Loughrey who was operating around the middle of the field kicked over the equalising score in the 23rd minute. Mallow moved in front two minutes later when Cian O’Riordan scored a fine point following good work by Denis Hayes and Mattie Taylor. However, an injury time pointed free by St. Michael’s Paul Cronin ensured they went in at the interval deadlocked at 0-7 each.
On the changeover Mallow started at a blistering pace. They gained control in the backline early on with Michael Quirke, James Loughrey, Bill Myers, John McGuinness, Mattie Taylor and Aaron Cahill cutting off the supply going to the St Michael’s forwards while the entire Mallow backline strongly supported their forwards who surged forward during the opening exchanges. Four rapid points by Cian O’Riordan (3) and Kieran O’Sullivan helped put a bit of daylight between the teams by the 36th minute 0-11 to 0-7. Paul Cronin kept St. Michael’s in touch when he kicked over a free from a very tight angle. Mallow maintained their four point lead when Bill Myers and Aaron Cahill combined well along the flank to find the hardworking Eoin Stanton who in turn set up the impressive Ryan Harkin for a long range point. Despite Mallow enjoying the lions share of the possession they were unable to put the game out of their opponents reach. St. Michael’s came right back into the fray when Paul Cronin with two frees in the 42nd and 43rd minutes narrowed the gap to 0-12 to 0-10. Michael Quirke and Eric Hegarty traded a point by the end of the third quarter before Mallow missed a chance to seal the issue when a great movement saw James Loughrey eventually get inside the St. Michael’s defence but his effort at goal was tipped over by their keeper Martin Burke at the expense of a point. This was a big let off for St. Michael’s as they gained a firm grip on the game over the next five minutes with Niall Cashman, Shane O’Keeffe, Paul Cronin, Andrew Murphy and Eric Hegarty doing very well. Eric Hegarty had a point before they edged in front when a ‘45’ dropped short and Shane O’Keeffe finished the ball to the net 1-12 to 0-14. In a thrilling finish both teams battled hard for supremacy. Mallow introduced four substitutes during this half and they all played a major part in their side’s victory. In the 52nd minute substitutes Craig Lynch and Pa Herlihy linked up well for Herlihy to kick over. They were also level at 0-16 to 1-13 when Cian O’Riordan and Paul Cronin traded a free. Mallow moved in front at the end of normal time by team captain Mattie Taylor but the lead was quickly pegged back when Domhnall Cremin pointed at the other end 0-17 to 1-14 and a replay certainly looked on the cards. Then came the defining score of the game when Pa Herlihy cut through the St. Michael’s defence to set up Aaron Sheehan who netted from a tight angle and opened up a three point game. St Michael’s were now forced to throw caution to the wind to keep their season alive. Keith and Eric Hegarty had a point each but time was not on their side to salvage the equalising score with Mallow doing enough to hold out for a close but deserved win and in the process be the first team to capture the first county title in the newly revamped Pairc Ui Chaoimh. After the game Ger Lane Co Board Chairman presented the cup to joint captains Mattie Taylor and Andrew Cashman.
Scorers for Mallow: Cian O’Riordan 0-7 (0-3f) Aaron Sheehan 1-0, Mattie Taylor 0-2, James Loughrey 0-2, Kieran O’Sullivan 0-2 (0-1f), Michael Quirke 0-1, Ryan Harkin 0-1, Conor Stokes 0-1, Pa Herlihy 0-1.
St Michael’s: Paul Cronin 0-6 (0-5f) Shane O’Keeffe 1-0, Eric Hegarty 0-3 (0-1f) Niall Cashman 0-2, Liam O’Sullivan 0-2, Daniel Meaney 0-1, Keith Hegarty 0-1, Domhnall Cremin 0-1.
Mallow: Kevin Doyle, Michael Quirke, James Loughrey, Bill Myers, John McGuinness, Mattie Taylor, Aaron Cahill, Denis Hayes, Eoin Stanton, Conor Stokes, Killian O’Connor, Ryan Harkin, Kevin Sheehan, Cian O’Riordan, Kieran O’Sullivan. Subs: Trevor McEvoy for John McGuinness, Pa Herlihy for Denis Hayes, Craig Lynch for Conor Stokes, Aaron Sheehan for Kevin Sheehan,
St Michael’s: Martin Burke, Luke Carroll, Alan O’Callaghan, Kevin O’Sullivan, Daniel Meaney, Andrew Murphy, Sean Keating, Shane O’Keeffe, Niall Cashman, Conor Sugrue, Paul Cronin, Eric Hegarty, Domhnall Cremin, Eoghan Buckley, Liam O’Sullivan. Subs: Tom Lenihan for Alan O’Callaghan (Black card), Mark Drummond for Domhnall Cremin, Tadgh Deasy for Conor Sugrue, Michael Mulconroy for Eoghan Buckley, Keith Hegarty for Liam O’Sullivan, Domhnall Cremin for Mark Drummond,
Referee David Murnane (Macroom)