Mallow got the job done against Éire Óg last summer; now for the rematch

Now, the pair go head-to-head again in the final of the Bon Secours county senior A football championship at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday evening
Mallow got the job done against Éire Óg last summer; now for the rematch

Mallow danger-man Cian O'Riordan shows his style against Éire Óg's Ronan O'Toole during the county senior A championship group game at Mourneabbey in August, 2020. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

THE only thing resembling any kind of normality in the Covid-plagued summer of 2020 was the brilliant sunshine.

Of course, you could make a strong and forceful case that the weather doesn’t always live up to its billing either, but it did last year, when it was needed more than ever.

That’s one of the abiding memories from the 2020 Bon Secours county senior A football championship, which came into being that July amid much excitement and curiosity.

It featured clubs with previous experience of the senior championship and those with ambitions from premier intermediate in a new competition with a new format, too, three groups of four.

And while it started 11 months ago, the final still hasn’t been played, the championship having been suspended in October, but that will be rectified on Saturday, when Mallow meet Éire Óg at Páirc Uí Chaoimh at 7pm.

They also squared up in Group 2, Mourneabbey, home of Clyda Rovers, the venue on a sparkling Saturday afternoon in mid-August.

Mallow, who had to win, thundered back into contention with a surprisingly comfortable win in a one-sided encounter that completely went against general expectations.

Daire McCarthy, Éire Óg, tackles Kevin Sheehan, Mallow. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Daire McCarthy, Éire Óg, tackles Kevin Sheehan, Mallow. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

They bounced back from their opening defeat to group leaders Kiskeam by revealing a hunger and intensity that proved too much for the previous year's premier intermediate winners.

The critical period came late in the opening half which resulted in Mallow gaining a vice-like grip on proceedings and never letting go as Éire Óg's number was up long before the finish.

Such was Mallow's authority that apart from the double-score victory they also accumulated a dozen wides, four more than their opponents.

There was little to predict Mallow's scoring blitz on the run-up to the break because the sides were level four times by the 24th minute.

And especially as Éire Óg created the only goal-scoring opportunity as early as the ninth minute, when Ronan O'Toole powered through only to be foiled by a super one-handed save by keeper Kevin Doyle, who did very well to hold the stinging shot, diving low to his left.

The teams struggled to find scores against heavily fortified defences, but all that changed, when Mallow pieced together a five-point swing with a string of impressive points.

Kevin Sheehan began the sequence with his second point of the opening half before the influential Darragh Moynihan helped Michael O'Rourke for a 0-6 to 0-4 lead after 27 minutes.

The same player kicked a brilliant free from close to the left touchline, via the inside of an upright almost immediately and this was quickly followed by Sean McDonald's score.

It got worse for Éire Óg, when Liam Sheehan was shown a black card and Moynihan completed the scoring in the first minute of injury-time.

The 14 men managed to restrict Mallow to that single score by the time Sheehan returned with Daniel Goulding reducing the deficit with a 35th minute free, 0-9 to 0-5.

But, Mallow snuffed out any prospect of a fight-back by adding three more points in as many minutes, Cian O'Riordan, Kieran O'Sullivan and Sheehan nailing important points.

At 0-12 to 0-6 by the second water break, Mallow were in full control.

That was then. How will it turn out on Saturday is the big question with an answer expected before 8.30pm.

Scorers for Mallow: C O'Riordan 0-4, 1f, K Sheehan 0-3, M O'Rourke 0-3, 1f, D Moynihan, K O'Sullivan, S McDonald and J Dillon 0-1 each.

Scorers for Éire Óg: D Goulding 0-4, 3f, C O'Callaghan, B Hurley and D O'Herlihy 0-1 each.

MALLOW: K Doyle; O Carroll, J Loughrey, A Cashman; T McEvoy, S Merritt, M Taylor; D Moynihan, E Stanton; K O'Sullivan, R Harkin, M O'Rourke; C O'Riordan, K Sheehan, S McDonald. 

Subs: J Dillon for O'Rourke injured 57, P Hennessy for Sheehan 60

ÉIRE ÓG: C Kelly; D O'Herlihy, J Mullins, C McGoldrick; D McCarthy, J Cooper, D Sheehan; R O'Toole, L Sheehan; E O'Shea, J Murphy, C O'Callaghan; D Goulding, captain, C Sheehan, B Hurley. 

Subs: K Hallissey for Hurley half-time, J Kelleher for Dineen 50, J Cooper for O'Toole 52

Referee: M Collins (Clonakilty).

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