Mallow 0-18 Ballyhea 1-11
MALLOW won the SAHC North Cork derby on Saturday evening to keep their hopes of making the knockout stages firmly in their own hands.
After losing out to Ballymartle, the Avondhu side are back in contention in the Senior A Championship with what ultimately turned out to be a well-deserved win.
In less than ideal conditions for flowing hurling, both sides acquitted themselves well over the 60-plus minutes however it was the men in red that would deservedly take the spoils thanks in large part to their talisman and free-taker Aaron Sheehan and the second half heroics of their keeper Padge Buckley.
From the off in Buttevant, both sides found the posts difficult to find however when the scoreboard was finally troubled it was Ballyhea that struck clear leading 1-2 to 0-1 on 14 minutes.
Ballyhea corner-forward Eugene O’Leary doing the main damage with a goal and a point between the fifth and sixth minutes.
Mallow responded and were back on level terms on 23 minutes thanks to the accuracy of Aaron Sheehan, the tireless work of centre-forward Ronan Sheehan and the irrepressible Paul Lyons who popped up everywhere he was needed.
Jack O’Hanlon at wing-back and Darragh Moynihan at full-back also had plenty of ball as the game progressed at an impressive pace.
For Ballyhea, Pa O’Callaghan ran the show out near the middle chipping in with a point on 28 with O’Leary, Jack Morrissey and Dean Copps all doing well.
As the halftime whistle loomed this one looked like being all-square however a quick scoring blitz from Sean Hayes put Mallow three up as referee Justin Murphy called time: 0-11 to 1-8.
Ballyhea needed to get off the mark soon if they were to keep Mallow in check and would have been happy to see O’Callaghan slit the posts soon after the sides restarted but five in a row from Carrigoon lads saw them well in control as this one headed for the final seven.
Credit to Ballyhea, they battled to the end and if they hadn’t been up against Mallow’s netminder Buckley the boys in black and white could easily have taken the spoils.
Buckley first saved brilliantly from John Morrissey before then pulling off an extraordinary save from an O’Callaghan penalty – sending the victory Mallow’s way.
Few could argue that on this day the better side won – Mallow now prepare to take on Bride Rovers while for Ballyhea they must take something from their clash with Ballymartle if they are to avoid the relegation playoff.