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Thursday 19 October 2017

The double is still on for Mallow

County PIFC Semi-final: Mallow 0-16 Bandon 1-6

Noel Horgan

Mallow's hopes of registering a unique county premier intermediate championship double remain very much alive following the footballers' semi final win over Bandon at Coachford last Saturday.

It was a victory achieved without too much bother, as, apart from a brief period towards the end of the first half, they never looked likely to lose to last year's intermediate kingpins, who were certainly flattered to go in at half-time just two points in arrears.

Mallow were clearly the dominant side during the opening quarter when Eoin Stanton and Denis Hayes ruled the roost at midfield, and Kevin Sheehan, Cian O'Riordan and Pa Herlihy carried an obvious threat in the inside line of attack.

Ryan Harkin made his presence felt too at wing forward, as Mallow burst from the traps to notch a hat-trick of points inside five minutes, two of which came Kevin Sheehan.

Harkin had drawn first blood for Mallow from a '45, which came about after Denis Hayes created a golden opportunity for Sheehan, whose goal-attempt was deflected outside the posts by Bandon custodian Pat Prendergast.

It took the intervention of Bandon wing-back Cian O'Mahony to prevent Cian O'Riordan from finding the net for Mallow midway through the first half, and, in truth, they could have been out of sight at that juncture. As it was, they led by 0-7 to 1-0, with wing forward Darren Crowley having bagged a superb goal to bring Bandon back on terms in the sixth minute.

That came very much against the general run of the play, but it served to keep the Bandon ship afloat after Mallow responded with points from Harkin, Herlihy, Sheehan and O'Riordan.

Just when it seemed as if Mallow were going to coast home, Bandon upped their performance in the second quarter, with an excellent point from Darren Crowley triggering off a resurgence that yielded further scores from Jonathan Mulcahy, Mark Sugrue, from a free, and Alan Johnson.

Crucially, however, Mallow regained the initiative before half time, as Pa Herlihy nudged them ahead again, and centre back Matty Taylor added an inspirational score before Cian O'Riordan negated a Bandon point from Darren Crowley to make it 0-10 to 1-5 at the interval.

Taylor had an excellent match at the heart of a Mallow rearguard in which James Loughrey, Michael Quirke and Bill Myers comprised a rock-solid full-back line, rendering Bandon's highly-rated inside attacking trio of Michael Cahalane, Mark Sugrue and Barry Collins virtually redundant over the hour.

Aaron Cahill also acquitted him admirably at wing back for Mallow, even if his immediate opponent Darren Crowley made a noteworthy impact for Bandon, as did Jonathan Mulcahy on the opposite flank.

Mulcahy put his name on Bandon's only score in the second half, which didn't arrive until the 47th minute, and Mallow had reeled off four unanswered points in the interim, the last of which came from Kieran O'Sullivan, who finished strongly after being switched from the '40 to the right wing.

In the final analysis, Mallow held most of the aces, not least at midfield where Eoin Stanton was particularly influential, although it has to be acknowledged their control in the second half was facilitated to a certain extent by erratic shooting on Bandon's part.

The losers clocked up eight wides after the interval, but the likelihood is that Mallow would have been able to respond if their advantage had been seriously threatened in this period.

Credit to Bandon, they never gave up the ghost, and they might have a grabbed a consolation goal had not the referee ignored their claims for a penalty after Darren Crowley appeared to be fouled in the square in stoppage time.

Their tale of woe was compounded when Crowley was issued with a second yellow card for dissent, which meant they finished the match with 13 players, as Cian O'Mahony had been similarly punished a few minutes earlier.

Afterwards, Mallow selector Keith Moynihan said he was reasonably pleased with the performance, adding that the most satisfying aspect of it was the manner in which they held their composure after Bandon had erased a four-point deficit nearing half time.

"We've had to respond to things on a few occasions this year, and we've drilled it into the lads how important it is to respond when the pressure comes on. We showed good resilience again today, and, while this display could have been better, it was all about getting to the final, and we're absolutely delighted to be there now."

Barring Mallow's bid to achieve senior status will be St Michael's, who came out on top by the minimum when the teams previously clashed in a fourth round tie in 2015.

Scorers

Mallow: R Harkin 0-4 (1'45), C O'Riordan 0-4 (2f), K Sheehan 0-3, P Herlihy 0-2, K O'Sullivan 0-2 (1f), M Taylor 0-1

Bandon: D Crowley 1-2, J Mulcahy 0-2, M Sugrue (f) and A Johnson 0-1 each

Mallow: K Doyle; J Loughrey, M Quirke, B Myers; A Cahill, M Taylor, T McEvoy; S Hayes, E Stanton; C Stokes, K O'Sullivan, R Harkin; K Sheehan, C O'Riordan, P Herlihy Subs: C Lynch for Herlihy (injured), 28, D O'Riordan for McEvoy, ht, M O'Rourke for Sheehan, 54

Bandon: P Prendergast; P Crowley, J O'Donovan, E O'Donovan; T O'Donoghue, P Murphy, C O'Mahony; J Hickey, J Walsh; J Mulcahy, A Johnson, D Crowley; M Cahalane, M Sugrue, B Collins Subs: A Murphy for Cahalane, 43, R Crowley for Collins, 43, D Lucey for Hickey, 52, M McNamara for Johnson, 55

Referee: C Lane (Banteer)

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