Saturday 19 October 2019

Kiskeam turned the tables on Mallow

County SFC Round 1: Kiskeam 2-12 Mallow 0-10

Diarmuid Sheehan

A huge night in the history of Kiskeam GAA Club last Friday night as the club's senior footballers summoned up the spirit of 2016 to put in their best championship performance in over two years of championship action.

Mallow provided the opposition in Glantane for this one - the same side that dumped the Duhallow men out of the competition just under twelve months ago, biut on this night things were to be radically different for both protagonists as Kiskeam deservedly inflicted what many would call a shock defeat on the Avondhu men.

First year Kiskeam coach Neil Conway was delighted with his side's win and was quick to heap the praise on his new side.

"It really is a super experience here in the first night of the championship for me and the lads. We were expecting a tough test from Mallow and by sure we got it. They pushed us hard.

"I know the scoreboard at the end might say something different, but we tapped on a few points late on, but in reality, this was a real tough test, a real championship feel to it."

This was Conway's first big game with his new side and he couldn't be happier for his players.

"They are a real committed bunch. There are guys driving from Tramore and back from England and down from Dublin to train and play. All this as well as the commitments fellas have at home - these are all big commitments and they got their just rewards tonight. They are a very honest bunch of guys and I couldn't be happier for them.

"Our start was great. We first had a point from a goal chance and then got the goal but I don't think we scored again till the 14thminute which is an area that we can work on and try to see why that was the case."

While Conway wasn't in charge for the defeat in this fixture last year he was aware of the significant improvement shown by his side.

"I can't take the credit for that I am afraid. I think the guys deserve all the credit for that. I just ask them to be honest and be fit and credit to them they worked hard on their fitness and they needed that. They now are in a better place and they can make better decisions in tighter situations because of that."

Mallow came into the tie with talisman Cian O'Riordan lining out in his 18th championship season with Cork stars James Loughrey and Matty Taylor backing up the full-forward from centre-back and centre-forward respectively.

Eoin Stanton and Ryan Harkin held the midfield berths for the men in red with Killian O'Connor and Pa Herlihy in the attacking corners.

For Kiskeam Sean and Tom O'Sullivan were always likely to be the main scoring threats with Tomas Dennehy and Gene Casey tasked with the challenge of winning ball in the middle third.

Right from the off a surprise looked like it could be in the offing as Kiskeam literally hit the ground running almost getting off to the perfect start when AJ O'Connor found himself one on one with Mallow keeper Kevin Doyle inside 20 seconds.

The Duhallow forward correctly went for glory, but saw his goal bound effort tipped over the bar by the Mallow net minder. One of three great saves by the young Mallow keeper over the course of the sixty plus minutes.

The men in black and white didn't have to wait too long for their goal, but as Seán O'Sullivan was first to react to a ball in from Gene Casey on four minutes slotting the ball past Doyle. Mallow reacted to the early setbacks with two points from Cian O'Riordan and one from corner forward Killian O'Connor.

Kiskeam had the bit between their teeth and held the Avondhu side at bay for the next 20 minutes before landing their second sucker punch on the stroke of the break to go in leading by double scores 2-4 to 0-5.

Michael Herlihy was the man of the moment as he tipped the ball over the onrushing Doyle to set Mallow a serious challenge for the second period.

Mallow needed a quick start if they were going to get anything from this tie and credit to them four points in the opening four minutes of the second half had the gap down to the minimum.

Not for the first time Kiskeam weathered the storm and hit back landing the last seven points of the game to run out worthy winners. In the dying minutes, there was more pain for the vanquished side as they lost Cian O'Riordan to a straight red which will see him miss the crucial next game.

This was Kiskeam's first championship win in two years and should do wonders for the Duhallow side as they progress in the competition while for Mallow, a lot of soul searching will take place before they try to salvage their season in Round 2.

KISKEAM: A Casey; D Linehan, DJ Casey, S Carroll; M Casey, AJ O'Connor 0-1, K O'Connor; T Dennehy, G Casey; D Fitzgerald 0-1, S O'Sullivan 1-5 (5f), A Carroll 0-1; D Scannell, T O'Sullivan 0-3 (1f, 1.45), M Herlihy 1-0 Subs: S Meehan 0-1 for M Casey (25)

MALLOW: K Doyle; M Quirke, A Cashman, B Myres; A Cahill, J Loughrey 0-1, D Breen; E Stanton, R Harkin 0-1; K O'Sullivan, M Taylor 0-1, M O'Rourke; K O'Connor 0-3, C O'Riordan 0-3 (1f), P Herlihy 0-1 Subs: S Merritt for K O'Sullivan (45), K Sheehan for A Cahill (48), S Coughlan for B Myres (55)

Referee: J Bermingham (Bride Rovers)