Sunday 24 March 2019

Difficult return for Mallow footballers

County SFC, Preliminary Round: Valley Rovers 3-12 Mallow 1-12

Kevin Sheehan, Mallow and Aaron Lyons and Jack Walsh, Valley Rovers in action during
their round 1 clash in Pairc Uí Rinn on Saturday evening. Photo by Jim Coughlan
Kevin Sheehan, Mallow and Aaron Lyons and Jack Walsh, Valley Rovers in action during their round 1 clash in Pairc Uí Rinn on Saturday evening. Photo by Jim Coughlan

Diarmuid Sheehan, Páirc Uí Rinn

Mallow's arrival back in Cork senior football circles ended with a six point loss to Valley Rovers in Pairc Uí Rinn last Saturday night. The first game of a senior double header looked to be in the mix for long periods, but ultimately it would be the Carrigdhoun side that would move to Round 1 proper.

Mallow Manager Keith Moynihan was clearly disappointed with the result, but was happy with certain aspects of his side's performance.

"Frustration, that's the first feeling anyway. I think we acquitted ourselves quite well for long periods of the game but I think frustration really is what we feel. We had to respond times to mistakes and setbacks.

"Silly mistakes we should have been able to deal with and we ended up having to respond to those for the next 10 minutes. We did well initially and were in a good position going in at half time up by two and then you have the sucker punch of the second goal just when things were again going well but I have to give credit to Valley Rovers too, they established more primary possession, cleaning up more balls from breaks and we seemed to struggle there which meant we didn't have as much possession in the second period".

While Moynihan was relatively happy going in at the break he also realised that the two minutes before the break hurt his side on the board.

"We could have been going in up by four, but instead it was just two points and we knew there was a breeze that we were playing into in the second half which meant we couldn't go as long and as quick in that half. The kick outs were also holding up in the wind which is something we benefited from in the first half but was against us after that.

"All that said, goals win games and if you concede three you can't expect to win. We will get back down now and train again. With this new system now of Super 8s and all that we are not entirely sure when we will actually be out again, maybe it will be July but a couple of league games in the interim and some of the lads will have hurling in a couple of weeks' time and the lads will focus in on that - and we will be wishing them the best of luck."

Mallow opened up brightly and had their first senior championship point in a decade inside 90 seconds thanks to the right boot of Eoin Murphy. Valley's responded with a score from their full forward and talisman Fiahcra Lynch as the game settled into a tasty rhythm, no quarter asked or given from either side.

Mallow again took the lead with a huge point from centre-forward Harkin, however, the men in red and yellow would be rocked moments later when William Hurley found the onrushing Eoin Reilly and the corner forward made no mistake, at the second time of asking it must be said. The goal was a little harsh on Mallow keeper Cormac Doyle after he pulled off a terrific save for Doyle's initial effort.

Mallow looked in trouble at this stage with Valley's tagging on another score however it could have been worse for the Blackwater Valley men as Jack Walsh probably should have goaled.

Mallow settled down after this bagging the next three points with Ryan Harkin (two) and full-forward Cian O'Riordan getting his first of the game. O'Riordan found his range from that score and managed to add another personal brace before the half-time whistle.

Mallow were beginning to dominate at this stage working the ball superbly from back to front with scores resulting in the majority of efforts.

28 minutes in and the boys from Carrigoon got the reward their play deserved when midfielder Denis Hayes burst through the Valley's defence and finished past Cormac Desmond. Hayes' finish was less than convincing however the goal stood and Mallow led again.

Valley's responded with a brace of points before the short whistle however they trailed by two heading for the dressing rooms. 1-8 to 1-6.

The loss of Mallow's Daniel Sheehan and corner forward Pa Herlihy between half time and the 35th minute hurt Mallow at both ends of the pitch with Herlihy's injury looking particularly serious.

The sides emerged after the break with an even better intensity with Valley's fighting back to parity by the 46th minute.

Two goals in six minutes from the men in green would ultimately decide this one with another pair of frees from O'Riordan keeping Mallow in touch. Lynch's goal on 55 minutes followed substitute Johnny Kiely's three pointer as Mallow felt the full force of what an experienced senior championship side can do.

Lynch finished off the scoring with another two frees which brought his personal tally to a very credible to 1-8.

For Mallow this was a clear lesson about the importance of taking your chances and limiting the mistakes. Senior football is an unforgiving place where most errors will be punished and unfortunately for Mallow they made plenty.

On the positive side, the north Cork side impressed for three quarters of this one, looked really good going forward and showed they may well have what it takes at this level. Round 2B awaits.

VALLEY ROVERS: C Desmond; N O'Donovan, T Cummins, I Crowley; D Lordan, T O'Brien, A Lyons; K Canty, J Cottrell; W Hurley, E Delaney, J Walsh 0-2; E O'Reilly 1-1, Fiachra Lynch 1-8 (5f, 1.45), A Settini Subs: J Kiely 1-1 for N O'Donovan (bc), D Lynch for T O'Brien (42)

MALLOW: K Doyle; B Myres, A Cashman, M Healy; S Coughlan, M Taylor, D Sheehan; D Hayes 1-0, K O'Connor 0-1; E Murphy 0-1, R Harkin 0-3 (2f), E Stanton 0-1; K Sheehan 0-1, C O'Riordan 0-5 (3f), P Herlihy Subs: D Breen for D Sheehan (ht), K O'Sullivan for P Herlihy (35)

Referee: J Ryan (Macroom).