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Mallow prove doubters wrong with big win over Valley Rovers in Cork PSFC

Mallow boss Keith Moynihan thrilled with his side’s performance and ten-point winning margin


Fiachra Lynch, Valley Rovers, puts the pressure on Shane Merritt, Mallow during their County Premier Senior Football Championship Round 2 clash in Coachford on Saturday afternoon Photo by Jim Coughlan

Fiachra Lynch, Valley Rovers, puts the pressure on Shane Merritt, Mallow during their County Premier Senior Football Championship Round 2 clash in Coachford on Saturday afternoon Photo by Jim Coughlan

Fiachra Lynch, Valley Rovers, puts the pressure on Shane Merritt, Mallow during their County Premier Senior Football Championship Round 2 clash in Coachford on Saturday afternoon Photo by Jim Coughlan



Mallow 2-11

Valley Rovers 0-7

Mallow defied the detractors and the sceptics on Saturday night as they powered past Valley Rovers in Round 2 of PSFC to put themselves in pole position for a place in the knockout stages of this season’s top county football championship.

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On a tough night for football, the unseasonably hot weather making it difficult to do anything more than sit in the shade, Mallow showed they are ore than capable at the top grade and look ready to push on the next stage.

Mallow manager Keith Moynihan was thrilled with his side’s 10-point win over Valley Rovers pointing to key scores at key times for the margin of the victory.

“Sometimes you get a few scores at the right times and I suppose our goal in the first half really was that score.

“We felt we were dominating possession at times but weren’t really putting daylight between us but when Kieran [O’Sullivan] got that goal the lads started to believe and then we were able to tack on a few more scores.”

Mallow had a very credible tally of 2-11 on the night but while most of the plaudits will go to the forwards for that, the defence has to take great heart from holding Valley’s to only seven points.

“The defence was great tonight,” Moynihan continued.

“It looks like they are actually enjoying defending which is such an important thing in the modern game but defence isn’t just about the backs, because there is 12 or 13 now involved in defending so it is just about getting fellows back into the right places and they are all enjoying the turnovers as much as the scores – you try to emphasise that – it isn’t as if we are not turning over the ball either but I think we probably transitioned that little bit better and we got a couple of scores from those transitions – they were key.”

Playing in the sweltering heat is always going to be a big ask for players, particularly at senior grade, as the asks are even more with the pace and power of the games even more physically and mentally draining on those participating but Moynihan is confident that his side’s preparations helped them through on Saturday night.

“The conditions really aren’t what we would be used to but if your fitness levels are there you have to trust that. The lads are all into hydration – Tuesday’s and Thursday’s training was in similar conditions so if it was just like this tonight for the first time it would have been harder but the fact that it was there all week we were prepared for that.

“There is belief in this group. This is the team that lost the championship to Éire Óg in a final and came back and won it. There needs to be a great amount of credit for the resolve of this side and the belief that is in the group.

“But for us, we know that if we go out and win our next game against Douglas we go through to the quarter-final, and that is our priority.”

The 2021 Senior A Football Champions made light work of a side with much more experience at the top level exploding from the blocks, scoring at the right times and never letting their opponents get their hands on the ball for a sustained period of the game.

Led on the field by their captain and full-forward Ryan Harkin, Mallow looked good for the win early on and despite the best efforts of Valleys, they never really let their stranglehold on the game go for more than a few minutes at a time.

Harkin was all over the pitch and bagged three points along the way however he was ably assisted by Seán McDonnell, Daniel O’Sullivan and John Browne who not only bagged 2-7 between them, but also defended when called upon as Mallow looked to keep their opponents as far away from them as possible.

At the back, Cork players, Mattie Taylor and Shane Merritt were immense, as was Paul Lyons, Ethan Crone and the ever reliable Sam Copps – between them the Mallow reargued turned the ball over almost a dozen times from a Rovers side that struggled to find their way in to the Mallow danger zone.

For their part, Valley’s had Fiarchra Lynch, Darragh O’Shea and William Hurley on form with Billy Crowley bagging two points in the second half.

From the off Mallow looked up for this one. McDonnell in the corner registered his side’s first score from a free on two minutes, cancelling out Valley’s opening point from Lynch, before the Blackwater Valley boys edged ahead with a classy score from Browne.

Lynch levelled things up on seven minutes however the boys in green began to struggle with the pace, power and seemingly endless energy that the men in red were showing all over the pitch.

A brace of quick points from Jack Dillon and Harkin showed just what Mallow were capable of before a goal of the highest quality sent the Avondhu men four clear with 10 minutes still remaining in the first half.

A superb cut in from the right hand side had O’Sullivan through on goal and the wing forward made no mistake slamming the ball in off the post – Mallow in cruise control.

A point from McCarthy five minutes before he was called ashore was Valley’s only other highlight of the half as Harkin and McDonnell (a free) rounded off the opening 30 sending Mallow in at the turn – leading by six (1-6 to 0-3) and seemingly on their way to the top of Group B.

The second half didn’t get any easier for Rovers as a points from Browne was followed by a brilliantly worked goal and this one seemingly all over with over 20 still to play.

Browne was involved in a neat one-two with McDonnell and the latter bundled the ball in from close range to push his side 10 clear.

Valley’s hit back with a Crowley brace inside a minute but four of the next six points saw the game out for Keith Moynihan’s charges.

Mallow will take on Douglas on the final day of the league phase of this competition with their fate firmly in their own hands – nothing guaranteed yet for the north Cork side but after two very impressive wins in very different conditions a place in the quarters looks to be on the cards – perhaps even more if they can see off a Douglas side that lost their opener to Valleys a number of weeks ago.

For Valley Rovers, they will need to bounce back from what was a very hard day at the office – still in the hunt but the Innishannon side will need to get past a Ballincollig team that will be every bit as desperate for the points as they Valleys are.

MALLOW: K Doyle; P Lyons, S O’Callaghan, E Crone; S Copps, S Merritt, M Taylor; D Moynihan, E Stanton; K O’Sullivan 1-1, J Dillon 0-1, P Herlihy; J Browne 0-3 (2f), R Harkin 0-3, S McDonnell 1-3 (3f) Subs: J Glynn for P Herlihy (51), P Attridge for J Browne (55), F Heffernan for K O’Sullivan (57), M Fitzpatrick for E Stanton (57)

VALLEY ROVERS: C Desmond; D Muckian, J O’Driscoll, T O’Brien; J Kiely, D O’Shea, R O’Sullivan; D Murphy, W Hurley 0-1; E Reilly, K Canty, C McCarthy 0-1; B Crowley 0-2f, E Delaney, F Lynch 0-3 (2f) Subs: D Lynch for C McCarthy (29); A Kenneally for E Delaney (38), J Cottrell for F Lynch (49)

REFEREE: Pat O’Leary (Kilmurry)