Mallow 2-11 Valley Rovers 0-7
MALLOW powered past Valley Rovers in round two of the Premier SFC to put themselves in pole position for a place in the knockout stages of this season’s top county championship.
The 2021 Senior A Football Champions made light work of a side with much more experience at the top level exploding early, scoring at the right times and never letting their opponents get their hands on the ball for a sustained period of the game.
Led on the field by their captain and full-forward Ryan Harkin, Mallow looked good for the win early on and despite the best efforts of Valleys never really let their stranglehold on the game go for more than a few minutes at a time.
Harkin was all over the pitch and bagged three points along the way however he was ably assisted by Sean McDonnell, Daniel O’Sullivan and John Browne who not only bagged 2-7 between them but also defended when called upon as Mallow looked to keep their opponents as far away from them as possible.
At the back, Cork players, Mattie Taylor and Shane Merritt were immense, as were Paul Lyons, Ethan Crowe and the ever-reliable Sam Copps – between them the Mallow reargued turned the ball over almost a dozen times.
For their part, Valleys had Fiachra Lynch, Darragh O’Shea and William Hurley on form with Billy Crowley bagging two points in the second half.
From the off Mallow looked up for this one. McDonnell in the corner registered his side’s first score from a free on two minutes, cancelling out Valleys' opening point from Lynch, before the Blackwater Valley boys edged ahead with a classy score from Browne.
Lynch levelled things up on seven minutes however the boys in green began to struggle with the pace, power and seemingly endless energy that the men in red were showing all over the pitch.
A brace of quick points from Jack Dillon and Harkin showed just what Mallow were capable of before a goal of the highest quality sent the Avondhu men four clear with 10 minutes still remaining in the first half.
A superb cut-in from the right-hand side had O’Sullivan through on goal and the wing forward made no mistake slamming the ball in off the post – Mallow in cruise control.
A point from McCarthy five minutes before he was called ashore was Valleys' only other highlight of the half as Harkin and McDonnell (a free) rounded off the opening 30 sending Mallow in at the turn – leading by six and seemingly on their way to the top of Group B.
The second half didn’t get any easier for Rovers as a point from Browne was followed by a brilliantly worked goal and this one seemingly all over with over 20 still to play.
Browne was involved in a neat one-two with McDonnell and the latter bundled the ball in from close range to push his side 10 clear.
Valleys hit back with a Crowley brace inside a minute but four of the next six points saw the game out for Keith Moynihan’s charges.
Mallow will take on Douglas on the final day of the league phase of this competition with their fate firmly in their own hands – nothing guaranteed yet for the north Cork side but after two very impressive wins in very different conditions a place in the quarters looks to be on the cards.
For Valley Rovers, they will need to bounce back from what was a very hard day at the office – still in the hunt – Ballincollig await.
S McDonnell 1-3 (0-3 f); K O’Sullivan 1-1; J Browne (0-2 f), R Harkin 0-3 each; J Dillon 0-1.
F Lynch 0-3 (0-2 f); B Crowley 0-2 f; W Hurley, C McCarthy 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, P Herlihy; J Browne, R Harkin, S McDonnell.
J Glynn for P Herlihy (51), P Attridge for J Browne (55), F Heffernan for K O’Sullivan (57), M Fitzpatrick for E Stanton (57).
C Desmond; D Muckian, J O’Driscoll, T O’Brien; J Kiely, D O’Shea, R O’Sullivan; D Murphy, W Hurley; E Reilly, K Canty, C McCarthy; B Crowley, E Delaney, F Lynch.
D Lynch for C McCarthy (29); A Kenneally for E Delaney (38), J Cottrell for F Lynch (49).
Pat O’Leary (Kilmurry