Cork SAFC previews: St Michael's v Dohenys, Mallow v Ballingeary

Mark Woods looks ahead to the Senior A semi-finals in Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday
Cork SAFC previews: St Michael's v Dohenys, Mallow v Ballingeary

Mallow's Kevin Sheehan clashes with Kiskeams, Kieran O'Connor. Picture: Gavin Browne

IT’S familiar territory for St Michael’s and Mallow ahead of the Bon Secours Senior A Football Championship semi-final double-header at Páirc Uí Chaoimh tomorrow.

The city club are first up against Dohenys at 5pm and then it’s the turn of Mallow-Ballingeary at 6.45pm.

Michael’s know all about contesting finals, having appeared in the premier intermediate deciders in 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019 and are now hoping for better fortune in the second season of the new competition.

Like Mallow, Michael’s qualified directly for the semis, by-passing the quarter-finals, the stage at which their season ended in 2020.

They won all three Group B games against Bishopstown, Kiskeam and Knocknagree to advance on merit with a team that’s backboned by the meanest defence.

On average, opponents have only managed to score 0-8 as Michael’s restricted the Town to a miserly 0-5 and the Duhallow duo could only manage 0-8 apiece with Kiskeam scoring the only goal.

Owen O’Sullivan and Joe Golden hold the centre in front of dependable goalkeeper Martin Burke, but it’s the defence as a unit which has impressed, supplemented by Eoin de Burca at midfield.

In attack Michael’s don’t depend on a star forward as such and the burden is shared across the entire forward division which has scored just two goals, Eoghan Buckley and Dan Lenihan obliging.

Adam Hennessy and Eric Hegarty are capable shooters while the expected availability of hurlers Tadhg Deasy, John O’Sullivan and Daniel Meaney, among others, should offer more options.

St Michael's goalkeeper Martin Burke in action against Kiskeam. Picture: Denis Boyle
St Michael's goalkeeper Martin Burke in action against Kiskeam. Picture: Denis Boyle

Dohenys are surprise semi-finalists in a way after losing their opening Group A encounter with Ballingeary by nine points.

But, the Dunmanway club bounced back magnificently, taking the scalps of O’Donovan Rossa and Bandon in qualifying before having eight points to spare over Knocknagree in the quarter-finals.

Unlike Michael’s, Dohenys know to compile big scores, 0-17 against Skibb, 0-14 against Bandon and 1-12 against Knocknagree with Kevin White and Mark Buckley combining for an impressive 2-31 between them.

They kept clean sheets in their last outings and on average only cough up 0-9 while scoring 0-14, suggesting this is going to be a tight, low-scoring affair.

Dohenys dominated the closing quarter against Knocknagree, outscoring their opponents 1-6 to 0-1 with Buckley’s 49th-minute goal the catalyst.

Centre-back Jerry McCarthy and midfielder Eoin Lavers are important figures and Dohenys are hoping Fionn Herlihy’s hamstring injury clears in time.

BOUNCING BACK

It was only in mid-June that Mallow suffered the acute disappointment of losing the 2020 final to Éire Óg, but they’ve regrouped in a spirited way.

They bagged one of the two automatic passes to the last-four by overcoming Fermoy, Clyda Rovers and Bantry Blues in Group C.

Mallow’s team has evolved though the core of Kevin Doyle, Oisin Carroll, Mattie Taylor and Shane Merritt remains in defence with Darragh Moynihan, Eoin Stanton and Ryan Harkin around the middle.

And the inside line of Sean McDonnell, leading scorer Kevin Sheehan and Kieran O’Sullivan carries a big threat.

Conceding 1-11 to Bantry a month ago will have occupied the attention of manager Keith Moynihan, especially as Ballingeary have scoring power of their own.

After starting impressively against Dohenys, the Gaeltacht club were involved in dogfights against Bandon and Skibb, winning both by a point before taking Clyda by four in the quarters.

The Seartans are leading figures in attack with Ben providing 1-15 and Liam and Donagh also contributing well as does Conchuir Ó Loinsigh while midfielder Aindres Coinceannon is another go-to player.

Mallow’s greater experience could be pivotal and the desire to make amends for last season could also be a factor in determining the outcome.

RELEGATION

Meanwhile, it’s the last chance saloon for Carrigaline and Ilen Rovers who meet in the premier senior relegation play-off in Rosscarbery tomorrow at 3pm.

Carrigaline appear to have it all to do after conceding 11 goals in their last two games and have yet to post scores in double figures.

Ilen have the experience of being in the same situation last season, when they prevailed against Bishopstown, scoring 0-18 in the process.

Unless there’s a significant improvement in Carrigaline’s general performance, Ilen look set to retain their top tier status in 2022.

More in this section

Sponsored Content

Add Echolive.ie to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more