HAVING lost their previous two semi-finals, all the pressure was on Mallow last Saturday night to try and make it third time lucky against Cloyne in this season’s Cork County PIHC.
At the end of the hour they had succeeded in their task and for team coach Diarmuid O’Riordan it was a very satisfactory night at the office. It sets up a final against Kanturk, after their victory over Ballinhassig in the second semi-final last Saturday night.
“Delight, thrilled, relieved is the word that I'd probably use first because this was our third year getting into the semi-final and we had lost the last two. To lose another one would be heartbreaking but we didn’t and it’s great now to be looking forward to a final at last.
“The night did not really suit our style of hurling, that’s crisp hurling but at half-time we addressed that and we told the players to prepare for a dogfight in the second-half.
“We went into the trenches with them and I think that showed up there, we won most of the 50/50 and the 60/40 battles."
O’Riordan acknowledge that the opening 30 minutes had been one of fluctuating fortunes, Cloyne starting off very well, Mallow responding before Cloyne went to the dressing rooms a point cleat at 1-9 to 1-8.
“Yes, the pressure of losing the last two semi-finals that we played was probably on our mind and there was a lot of nervous tension around early on I suppose. I thought that our subs did well when they were introduced over the course of the game. We have a great bench and there’s also lads that didn’t come on tonight who are very good hurlers but just didn’t get the chance this time.
“I thought that we finished very strongly and I suppose the turning point in the game came there in a period for us when we hit over six points without reply. That kind of gave us a cushion and we were then able to close out the game there after that.’’
Now it’s the final frontier and O’Riordan is eagerly looking forward to that but, at the same time, he stressed that finals must be won.
“Look, you don’t get any trophy for winning a semi-final. We know what is ahead of us and any of the two other semi-finalists will make it very difficult for us. We are still involved in the PIFC and we have quite a few lads who are involved as well in that.
“We have Bandon in the semi-final of that and that will probably be played before the hurling final.
“It’s a balancing act between the two, they have their time, we have ours but isn’t it a good complaint to have. I’d be thrilled with this win tonight because you get nothing easy in this grade of hurling, you have to earn it and we did that."
O’Riordan acknowledged too how important it is for a club like Mallow to be challenging for top honours.
”Absolutely, Mallow is crying out for a big hurling win. We have 36, 37 at training. You have young lads now going around the town again with hurleys and there’s pride in being a Mallow hurler again.
“We have the facilities, a magnificent complex and you must remember our U16s were beaten in a county final. Our minors went down to the eventual winners Inniscarra so there is plenty of talent in Mallow.
“The build-up now for the final is that the football will take over for a while again as they try to reach their final. Then we will get our players back again we’ll drive on again and get ready for the final."