IN MALLOW GAA circles 2021 may well go down as one of the most successful years in the club’s history – that is if the current senior football squad can see off Éire Óg in the (2020) SAFC Final later in the Summer.
Whether Mallow do or don’t become a Premier Senior side only time will tell, but one thing that is certain as of now is that the upcoming Final will be the last outing for Mallow’s legendary talisman for over two decades Cian O’Riordan.
While many players in Mallow dedicate their sporting lives to the dual stage, O’Riordan, perhaps one of the finest players to ever represent the red and yellow, sticks firmly to the big ball – something that has paid dividends throughout his long and now almost completed sporting career.
Few can argue that O’Riordan is Mr. Mallow GAA.
At almost 38 years of age, he still commands the respect of his peers, puts the fear of God into defenders and retains an ability to land the magical score from deep, or from out wide, like few other footballers of his, or for that matter any, generation.
O’Riordan’s has spent his entire sporting career leading the charge to make Mallow, or keep Mallow, a senior football club and now, after a long period of reflection, the talented attacker is calling time on his career – with just one last roll at the dice – the Senior County Final with Éire Óg left to complete.
“Sometimes the decision is obvious but we try to avoid it - but simply put, you just can’t beat old Father-Time,” said O’Riordan in recent days. “The body just doesn’t heal the way you want to when you have mileage on the clock.
"Now the young fellows come in and they fly past you at training and then you know it is time to hang up the old boots and give them younger lads a go.”
So, would O’Riordan be tempted to stay on if Mallow do get promoted to the top flight of Cork football later in the year?
“No. definitely not. For a club player, I have done it all in my eyes.
"I have won two county titles with my club. I have played at the top level for a number of years.
"I can go out as a senior footballer. I have played with and against some of the greatest players of this generation and for me that is enough.
"I would like the one last medal of course but if I can’t get it from the 2020 season I can live with that.
"I will leave content either way.”
No question but football in North Cork will be a far duller place without O’Riordan on the field.