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Newmarket's Conor O'Keeffe celebrates his goal against Macroom. Picture Eddie O'Hare
Newmarket's Conor O'Keeffe celebrates his goal against Macroom. Picture Eddie O'Hare
SOCIAL BOOKMARKS

Mallow are the front runners in the PIFC but Newmarket laid down a marker

TWO of the three re-runs in the premier intermediate football championship at the weekend ended with the original winners taking the spoils once more.

Back at the end of July, Mallow squeezed out a four-point, 1-12 to 0-11, round 2A win over Ballingeary in a tight-game, but there was no doubting their superiority in the quarter-finals at rain-lashed Coachford on Saturday evening.

On this occasion, the north Cork side ran or rather swam out 2-12 to 0-9 victors in a game ruined by incessant rain though the pitch stood up remarkably well to the deluge.

A couple of months before, near May's end, Newmarket overcame a Macroom side, minus the services of the suspended Fintan Goold, by seven points, 1-14 to 0-10, in another round 2A fixture.

The former Cork star returned for the second meeting in Dromtarriffe, but the Duhallow club still prevailed, winning by five points, 2-11 to 1-9, to extend their season.

Shane O'Keeffe of St Michael's scores a goal despite the best efforts of Éire Óg keeper Chris Kelly. Picture: Denis Minihane.
Shane O'Keeffe of St Michael's scores a goal despite the best efforts of Éire Óg keeper Chris Kelly. 
Picture: Denis Minihane.

In early June, St Michael's outpointed Éire Óg by 0-12 to 0-9 at the round 2A stage, but their re-match finished level at 2-9 to 1-12, resulting in Newmarket still knowing the identity of their semi-final opponents.

It means there are five teams still left in the championship with Mallow's nine-point success making them the 13/8 favourites to lift the title.

Bandon, who overcame Bantry Blues by 1-9 to 1-4 and now meet Mallow, Éire Óg and Newmarket are quoted 4/1 with St Michael's at fives.

Bandon's championship run is quite staggering. In 2015, they were a junior club, battling to win a very competitive Carbery title which they managed to achieve.

In the county section, Bandon overcame Delanys and Knocknagree before denying Iveleary in the final.

Then, last season in the intermediate championship, Bandon made it back-to-back counties despite losing to Cill na Martra in round 1.

They avenged that defeat in the semi-final before stunning Rockchapel in the decider to claim successive county titles, no mean achievement at all.

Now, Bandon are on the prowl for a third county in-a-row and while they will be outsiders against a very impressive Mallow, the west Cork side are in bonus country with very little to lose.

A strong Mallow contingent turn their attentions to helping Avodhu continue their march in the county senior championship, when they meet Valley Rovers in round 4 in Ovens on Sunday at 2pm.

Mallow's John McGuinness going high for the ball with Colmán Ó Tuama of Béal Átha'n Ghaorthaigh. Picture: Denis Minihane.
Mallow's John McGuinness going high for the ball with Colmán Ó Tuama of Béal Átha'n Ghaorthaigh. Picture: Denis Minihane.

Mallow were well represented last time out, when they defeated Ilen Rovers by the same 2-12 to 0-9 score line as registered against Ballingeary.

Andrew Cashman played full-back, Mattie Taylor left half-back, Eoin Stanton midfield and Ryan Harkin left half-forward while Mallow had six more players on the bench, Kevin Doyle, Cian O'Riordan, Killian O'Connor, Billy Myers, Kieran O'Sullivan and Stephen O'Callaghan.

Mallow also have a number of important games to play in the Rochestown Park Hotel League Division 1 which will determine their fate.

Castlehaven are already relegated to division 2 with Ilen Rovers under threat, too, after suffering a heavy 3-22 to 1-10 defeat by O'Donovan Rossa at the weekend.

Ilen are level on six points with Mallow, who've three games-in-hand, including a fixture against Ilen, which the west Cork club's final game.

Skibbereen, who followed up their win over the Haven, jumped up to joint third in the table on nine points, the same as Nemo Rangers and Valley Rovers, with one game remaining against Nemo.

Ballincollig and county champions, Carbery Rangers, are poised to make the semi-finals, but who joins them remains to be seen with several permutations at play.

Cill na Martra, who are through to the intermediate championship semi-final, will replace the Haven in the top flight after winning all nine games to reflect their high standing.

The Gaeltacht club are through to the county U21 semi-final, as well.