Heartbreak for gallant Mallow
It was heartbreak for a gallant Mallow United Under 12 team when they came up just short in the SFAI Under 12 National Cup final to Cherry Orchard of Dublin on a one-nil scoreline.
Nobody ever said it was going to be easy heading to Cobh to take on a phenomenal Cherry Orchard first team, but just how difficult wouldn't be known until the opposition were face to face on the pitch.
Mallow romped to the final with a hugely impressive 4-0 win over Orchard's second side three weeks earlier however this was always likely to be a big test for a club not that familiar with the showpiece game of national competitions.
Mallow came into the game as underdogs and after beating the Dublin club's second side well there was no chance that they were coming in as unknowns. Kennedy Amechi, the side's main goal threat would have been well known to the Dubs after seeing him smash home all four goals in the semi-final.
Cherry Orchard started the game really well, dominating possession and territory for most of the opening half. Mallow had to rely heavily on their defenders in the opening period with Shane O'Connell, Ben Creedon and Alex O'Leary called into action on more than one occasion.
Mallow's top class young keeper, Artur Osinski was sublime in the early stages doing everything that was asked of him in a cool and calculating manner, despite the obvious tension that was gathering both on and off the field.
Amechi may not have been getting the chances early on, however, there was little doubt that his pace and power up front meant he was always a threat that stopped the Cherries going on the all-out attack.
Amechi did have one good chance when sent through by Donnacha O'Doherty however the striker just slipped the ball around the outside of the post. O'Doherty was magnificent all game and despite his side coming out on the wrong side of the final score line the midfield general was rightfully selected as Man of the Match for the final.
Others to show their worth in the opening period were Ciaran O'Sullivan, Evan Magner, Daniel Ryan and Patrick O'Grady who despite liking to play most of their football on the front foot had to dig in with the defensive pack further back the field in order to repel the ever improving Dublin boys.
Mallow trailed by the minimum at the break and throughout the second period they fought hard to get back on terms however it wasn't to be as the boys in red and black took the spoils on what was a historic day for Mallow.
All at the club can be proud of what they achieved this season which is more proof that the newly formed schoolboys club is yet another major step forward for a club with a long and prestigious history.