Mallow 2-12 St Michael’s 0-15
Seán Hayes was the Mallow hero as he landed the injury-time winning goal to give them Bons Secours Hospital Cork SAFC glory at the expense of St Michael’s at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday afternoon.
Beaten in the 2020 final by Éire Óg in June, the North Cork side had looked to be in a strong position when they led by 1-11 to 0-10 at the first water break in the 49th minute, but they were outscored by 0-5 to 0-1 as St Michael’s – beaten in the second tier (then PIFC) finals of 2012, 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019 – reeled them in, drawing level when Tadgh Deasy got his eighth point of the day in the 61st minute.
All of the momentum was with the city men, but Mallow kept their composure. Captain Eoin Stanton won the kick-out and linked with sub Aaron Cahill, who fed Matty Taylor. The Cork star had been totemic all day as part of a strong half-back line – he, Stephen O’Callaghan and Shane Merritt all scored – and when the need was greatest, he arrowed a perfect pass into the hands of Hayes, a second-half sub. While he could have taken the mark for an easy point, he sent a crashing shot home to give Mallow delight and break St Michael’s hearts again.
Having trailed by a point at half-time, Mallow got on top in the third quarter. Kieran O’Sullivan and Michael O’Rourke had points to put them in front for the first time and, though Deasy levelled, Mallow got a huge boost with their first goal on 39. As with what would happen later, the delivery was from the half-back line, with O’Callaghan sending a skyscraping ball in and Seán McDonnell fisting the ball to the net.
Deasy replied with his sixth for Michael’s, but Taylor – with a shot tipped over by Martin Burke – and then O’Callaghan on target for that four-point lead. While it looked like they had lost it, the late drama ensured that they took the Kevin McTernan Cup.
Michael’s had enjoyed a good start, with points from Eric Hegarty and Tadgh Deasy – two pre-match additions to the side – before Kevin Sheehan got Mallow off the mark in the ninth minute with a nice score from a tight angle.
From the resultant kickout, Michael’s wing-forward Liam Grainger claimed possession and embarked on a driving run before laying off to impressive midfielder Billy Cain. He went for goal but Mallow’s Kevin Doyle produced a fine save, albeit at the expense of a 45, which Deasy converted.
By the water break, the city side remained in front, though two Kieran O’Sullivan points for Mallow had harnessed some momentum for them; at the other end, Grainger rounded off a good move to ensure Michael’s had a 0-4 to 0-3 lead at the intermission.
That lead was 0-6 to 0-4 after Cain had been fouled for a free that Deasy converted and when he got his fifth of the game – when corner-back Seán Keating intercepted a loose defensive free, they were three in front but that was as good as it got for them.
Mallow centre-back Shane Merritt replied after lovely inter-play with Jack Dillon and Kevin Sheehan sent over a free for his second to leave one in it. Keith Hegarty pushed Michael’s two ahead again when his shot might have gone under the crossbar but Dillon was on hand to apply the finish to a nice passing sequence to ensure Mallow went in trailing by 0-8 to 0-7.
They got in front, but were pushed all the way before taking the honours.
S Hayes 1-1 (0-1 mark), K O’Sullivan 0-3 (0-1 f), S McDonnell 1-0, S Merritt (0-1 45), K Sheehan 0-2 each, S O’Callaghan, M Taylor, M O’Rourke (f), J Dillon 0-1 each.
T Deasy 0-8 (0-5 f, 0-1 45), E Hegarty 0-2 (0-1 f), K Hegarty, L Grainger, L O’Sullivan, A Hennessy (f), S Keating 0-1 each.
K Doyle; O Carroll, E Barry, B Myers; S O’Callaghan, S Merritt, M Taylor; D Moynihan, E Stanton; M O’Rourke, R Harkin, J Dillon; K O’Sullivan, S McDonnell, K Sheehan.
A Cahill for Taylor (20-21), S Hayes for O’Rourke (40), Cahill for Carroll (49), P Herlihy for Dillon (57), P Hennessy for McDonnell (60), P Lyons for K Sheehan (60).
M Burke; S Keating, O O’Sullivan, L Carroll; J Golden, P Cunningham, D Corkery; D Meaney, B Cain; E Sheehan, K Hegarty, L Grainger; E Hegarty, A Hennessy, T Deasy.
T Lenihan for Corkery (37), L O’Sullivan for E Hegarty (44), O Gribbon for Sheehan (47), E de Búrca for K Hegarty (49).
P O’Driscoll (Bride Rovers).