Mallow 0-10 Ballincollig 0-6
MALLOW joined Valley Rovers at the top of Group B of the Bons Secours Cork PSFC after they recorded a famous win over Ballincollig at a wind and rain swept Mourneabbey on Saturday afternoon.
This was a sweet victory for Mallow after their last two forays into the top grade ended in relegation but now, they are looking the other way after a performance that was built on a rock-solid defence and an even spread of scorers that saw seven players find the target.
Mallow played with the strong wind in the first half and led by double scores at the break, 0-6 to 0-3 but there was a feeling that the lead mightn’t have been enough. That feeling grew when Seán Kiely narrowed the gap to two points on the resumption after keeper Kevin Doyle parried his shot onto the crossbar and over the bar.
However, as the rain became heavier, negating the effect of the wind, Mallow proved their worth with Eoin Stanton outstanding in the middle of the field while Mattie Taylor and Shane Merritt anchored their defence splendidly.
Seán McDonnell traded scores with Ballincollig’s Darren Murphy to leave the game tightly poised with 16 minutes to go but then it was time for Mallow to drive home their advantage as they kicked three points in a row. Jack Dillon knocked over a free, John Browne tapped over another before kicking a fine score from play to leave them leading 0-10 to 0-5 with eight to go.
Ballincollig gave it their all, but they just weren’t clinical enough up front, as their wide tally reached 12, and their only response was a free from Jordan O’Connor.
The opening exchanges were typical of the occasion as the more pedestrian nature of the league gave way to the ferocity of championship. There was perspiration and effort aplenty, even if the football lacked a touch of class. The wind made things difficult for both teams, and the rain that fell on the pristine surface meant that the ball was more akin to a bar of soap at times.
There were only two scores in the opening 10 minutes as Darragh Moynihan put Mallow ahead only for Cian Kiely to bring the sides level for the only time in the game. The Avondhu side struggled to impose themselves up front as Noel Galvin and Liam Jennings defended well for Ballincollig.
Finally, Mallow began to find their groove with Stanton prominent at midfield as they began to see the benefit of using the weather to their advantage by shooting from distance. Stanton and Dillon both kicked fine long rang scores and Browne landed a monster of a free to leave three between them at the end of the opening quarter.
Ballincollig’s inaccuracy had already been on display, and they spurned four decent opportunities before Kiely came up from wing back to kick their second score from a free. Ryan Harkin responded in kind with a beautifully curled effort for the Avondhu side before Peter O’Neill had a sniff of a goal for Ballincollig when he slipped through the Mallow defence only for his goal-bound shot to be blocked out for a 45 that came to nothing.
Sam Copps then traded scores with Harry Aherne to leave Mallow leading by double scores at the interval.
From there Mallow grew in stature as they continuously frustrated their opponents by packing their defence and breaking at pace while also being fierce and disciplined in the tackle. They will look forward with confidence to their top-of-the-table clash with Valley Rovers while Ballincollig will face Douglas in three weeks’ time.
J Browne 0-3 (0-2 f), J Dillon 0-2 (0-1 f), S Copps, D Moynihan, E Stanton, R Harkin, S McDonnell (f) 0-1 each.
C Kiely 0-2 (0-1 f), H Aherne, S Kiely, D Murphy (f), J O’Connor (f) 0-1 each.
K Doyle; P Lyons, S O’Callaghan, E Crone; S Copps, S Merritt, M Taylor; D Moynihan, E Stanton; K O’Sullivan, J Dillon, J Glynn; J Browne, R Harkin (c), S McDonnell.
P Herlihy for Copps (blood, 18-20 mins), P Herlihy for Glynn (48 mins).
C Walsh; G O’Donoghue, L Jennings, N Galvin; L Fahy (c), S O’Neill, C Kiely; P O’Neill, S Kiely; L O’Connell, R Noonan, S Dore; H Aherne, D O’Mahony, D Murphy.
J O’Connor for L O’Connell (h-t inj), P Kelly for O’Mahony (40), for Dore (47), D O’Mahony for Murphy (49).
Pa O’Driscoll (Bride Rovers).